Don't forget about personal safety in the yard while you concentrate on saving energy, time, and money. One slip or oversight can have serious consequences both immediate and in time.
Fertilizers are generally safe, but insecticides and pesticides should be considered hazardous unless proven otherwise.
Pesticides Fertilizer and lime are safe, but the pesticides that control insects, plant diseases and plant growth should be suspect until proven otherwise. They are very useful in the garden, but as with chemotherapy, they have side effects.
All pesticides must be used correctly and safely. And they should never be used without compelling reason. Having a perfect lawn is not a compelling reason.
Pesticides are absorbed through the skin, particularly when a person is perspiring. They can also be absorbed by eating contaminated food, from unwashed hands and from the fur of cats and dogs. The largest amounts, however, are absorbed through the lungs from breathing spray or dust.
Acute exposure can cause skin rashes, itching, eye irritation, coughing, stuffed nose, headache, possible pregnancy problems and irritability. Larger doses can produce sperm reduction, insomnia, neurological symptoms such as tremors, numbness, dizziness, paralysis and difficulty breathing. One may feel "hyped up" as the body tries to rid itself of the poison by speeding up metabolism and adrenalin.
People who have repeated, small exposures may become sensitized. For instance, while nothing outwards happens the first nine times, antibodies will be formed inside the body. With the tenth exposure, one gets sick with symptoms. After that, the smallest dose will trigger the allergic reaction.
When using pesticides, respect them. To use them safely:
Read the small print on the label. You may need a magnifying glass, but do read what it is and how to use it. Make a card of the dilution rate with waterproof magic marker, and attach the card to the bottle with elastic. When microscopic instructions get wet, they become illegible.
Measure accurately. More is not better.
Dress protectively. Wear disposable gloves, long pants, and long sleeves.
Use a proper respirator with a disposable or gauze filter when spraying. A cardboard surgeon's mask won't do.
Always stand downwind. Don't breathe the mist. More is absorbed through the lungs than by any other exposure.
Shower with warm (not hot) water and use lots of soap. No bath. Hot water might feel good, but it volatiles the chemicals so they can be breathed in more, and as the pores open, the pesticides can go into them instead of washing off.
Wash clothes separately, not in the family laundry. Most pesticides are not very water soluble but float on an oily film.
Storage should always be in the original container. Never mix them in a container that someone might drink, especially children. No soda bottles, please.