Tuff Turf, Inc. has been in business for over 36 years, providing superior, professional, licensed landscape maintenance services for all of Clark County, Portland Oregon and beyond.

This is more than just a “catch phrase” to us. We take pride in providing great service. But what I want to focus on in this blog entry is the licensing aspect of our business.

If someone is applying ANY pesticide (by definition a pesticide is any type of chemical control material, insecticide, herbicide, fungicide etc.) to any residential or commercial property for money, they MUST be a licensed pesticide applicator AND have spray insurance. That includes something as simple as spot spraying weeds in flower beds.

Being licensed and bonded is NOT the same as being a licensed pesticide applicator with insurance specifically covering the application of pesticides. Tuff Turf applicators maintain licenses issued by the State of Washington though the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

We also maintain licenses issued through the Oregon State Department of Agriculture (OSDA), which allow us to do commercial and residential applications in the state of Oregon. Being properly licensed is the main way to ensure legal use of all pesticides, meaning the proper type of material used for the proper control measure, in the proper setting. Not only does this mean the targeted pest is being controlled, it also means the proper safety measures are being followed to protect non-targets (such as bees and other pollinators) and to minimize environmental impacts.

These licenses have a variety of categories, each requiring a separate test that must be passed to legally apply that category of pesticide. The minimum of categories needed for basic lawn, flower bed and tree and shrub spray maintenance include; Laws and Safety (which must be passed before any applicator can obtain a license, even if they pass the other categories), Weed and Ornamental and Insect and Disease. Having these categories on your license allows you to legally apply weed controls, insecticides and fungicides to residential and commercial landscapes.

Once a spray license is obtained, it is good for five years, but it must be renewed each year. There are two ways to retain your license beyond the five-year period; after five years you can retest on every category you want to continue being licensed for. Or, you can obtain educational credits through a variety of seminars that discuss current, relevant issues in our industry (such as protecting pollinators, new chemistries, various safety concerns, water shed protection and many other subjects).

These seminars earn you credit hours that must be approved by the WSDA and/or the OSDA. A minimum of 40 hours of credits must be earned and recorded by the WSDA/OSDA over the five-year period, with no more than 15 hours each year counted toward that total. If that total is not accumulated in the five-year period, you have to retest in all the categories.

This is the bare minimum of education required to do what we do. At Tuff Turf, we greatly exceed this minimum. We do this at considerable company expense (cost of the seminar, paying our employees their regular wages to attend and lost production), because it helps keep us at the cutting edge of our industry, providing the superior service we are so proud of.

Why tell you about all of this? Simply put, because there are A LOT of people out there doing A LOT of illegal, uninsured pesticide applications. And these people do not have the training or knowledge to safely use these pesticides. They may well be licensed and bonded, but without a SPRAY license and SPRAY insurance, that means nothing. If they do pesticide related damage to your landscape they are not covered by their bond.

Think about the implications.

So, the next time you get any estimate for any work that involves any pesticide, be sure to ask them if they have a spray license and spray insurance. And don’t be afraid to ask to see that license. All legitimately licensed applicators must, again, by law, have that license on their person when doing any application. Get the all the facts, not just the price, before deciding on who is spraying your landscape and the implications if something goes wrong.