WiseGardening Overview

WiseGardening shows risks of garden chemicals to humans, birds, bees, frogs and other species when you use them to control pests, diseases and weeds and helps you choose wisely.

As estimates of the number of synthetic chemicals in the world continues to grow by 2000 each year from around 144,000, it is worth knowing more about garden chemical products. Many may cause harm to:

  • Users – if they spill or ingest them or breathe in the aerosols
  • Species that visit or live in our gardens – birds, bees, fish, worms, frogs and a range of mammals such as pets especially if the chemicals persist in the soil
  • Aquatic species – if the chemicals can be washed through soil and windup in streams and other waterways they may harm not only fish, but also other aquatic organisms.

In this Australia-first initiative, WiseGardening assesses and rates risks of garden chemicals in commercially available products (currently over 850 which together contain 413 ingredients) and alternative non-chemical options to help you make informed choices about dealing with garden problems.

If you would like to see what choices there are, WiseGardening is for you!

Choices to Protect You and the Planet



Symbol Guide

Risks to Species

H = Human
A = Other Mammals
B = Bees
C = Worms
D = Birds
E = Fish
G = Other Aquatic Organisms
F = Frogs

Other Characteristics

M = Mobile in soil
P = Persistent
S = Carcinogen, Endocrine Disruptor or Genotoxic
Z = Poison S7
W = Biological control
= No information available for identified ingredients
O = No assessible ingredients listed
Y = Better Choices: WiseGardening options
! = Discontinued product
 ? = Under further investigation

Solid symbols = high risk
Open symbols = moderate risk
No symbol = no or low risk

How to use

WiseGardening gives star ratings to garden chemical products on a scale of 0 to 6 Stars where 6 stars are given to those with lowest risks.   Ratings are based on their risks to human health, bees, birds, frogs, pets, earthworms, fish, other aquatic species, soil mobility and persistence.

Data on products and ingredients used to create WiseGardening are the scientifically estimated and publicly reported risks to the health of humans and a range of other living organisms.  Also included are risks from important chemical properties.  For details of how ratings are derived see Our Assessment and Rating Process

Remember: these risks are very important if products are used unwisely.  Always use products strictly according to manufacturers’ instructions on labels and associated documentation.

Notes on Using WiseGardening

WiseGardening is sortable using the Search and Filter boxes.  The Search function can show information not visible on this page e.g. particular susceptible pests.  For some searches a full word such as “fungus” may not find many choices, but the beginning “fung” will show more because many entries might be for “fungicide”. Therefore, for some searches fewer letters may be more effective.

Note that the ingredient risks are based on pure ingredients so the risks are independent of the amount of ingredient in the product.

Some products with high star ratings still show some ingredient risks or other undesirable product characteristics. These products have received a high star rating because aspects of product packaging or being pre-mixed (i.e. not requiring dilution before use, or having robust packaging) reduce the likelihood of spills which could be harmful.

There are a few products which have ingredient risks about which there is conflicting international opinion.  Examples are those containing glyphosate, chlorpyrifos or dicamba.  Because we have only used data which is scientifically widely agreed on, these products may have achieved a higher star rating than some people might expect, especially if their containers and mode of delivery render the likelihood of inadvertent exposure unlikely.