Reader Question: The ban on the use of herbicides in France from July 1, 2022 is a sensible move but will make it much harder now to control weeds on driveways and paths in all areas, including private properties.
What products are still legally acceptable to control weeds in such areas?
The use of produits phytosanitaires (‘plant health products’) or phytopharmaceutiques (‘plant chemical products’) is strictly regulated in France and a decree issued in July banned gardeners from using these chemicals in a range of places, including private residences and their outdoor spaces.
Herbicides which are considered low risk or are permitted in organic farming are not subject to these restrictions. Products aimed at use by amateur gardeners in their gardens should be labelled EAJ (emploi autorisé au jardin).
Produits phytosanitaires de biocontrôle, which employ a natural organism or ingredient to tackle the weed or pest, are also permitted. Products can be labelled as such if they have been evaluated as not posing a risk to human or animal health or the environment, and meeting EU rules.
A list of these products can be found at the bottom of this government document.
Biocontrol brands such as Solabiol, Decamp’ and Fertiligène are therefore still available to buy.
Garden centres are, of course, not permitted to sell chemical herbicides which are banned by law to individuals so you should not be able to purchase any whose use is not permitted.
Alternatives to weedkillers include applying heat (by making a hole and pouring boiling water down it), covering the soil with a black bag or sheet to deprive the weed of light, or using a hoe to turn over the earth and access the roots so as to pull up the whole plant.