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How can I find a gardener in France who is allowed to use herbicides?

We look at the rules surrounding the use of certain weed killers in France

We look at the rules surrounding use of chemical herbicides in private gardens Pic: encierro / Shutterstock

Reader Question: How do I find a list of licensed gardeners who can buy and apply a strong weed killer to eradicate ivy growth making a wall unsafe at our home in Dordogne?

The rules on this point depend on whether the product you want to use falls under France’s strict rules on chemical treatments for plants. If not, there should be no problem if you or your gardener want to use the substance to eradicate the ivy. 

The use of produits phytosanitaires (‘plant health products’) or phytopharmaceutiques (‘plant chemical products’) is strictly regulated in France and a decree issued in July of this year banned gardeners from using them in a range of places, including private residences and their outdoor spaces. 

Read more: France bans pesticide use in more places, including private residences

The decree also applies to allotments, copropriétés, private access roads, campsites and hotels. 

This extended the scope of the Loi Labbé, which had already limited the use of such products in public parks and gardens, aiming to protect human, animal and environmental health. 

Therefore, in general no one – not even professional gardeners – are allowed to use strong herbicides in gardens. 

People failing to comply with the rules risk up to six months imprisonment and a €150,000 fine. 

Herbicides which are considered low risk or are permitted in organic farming are not subject to these restrictions. 

There also exist some exceptions to the ban on herbicides in private residences.

The law does not apply to: 

  • Treatments and measures necessary for the destruction and prevention of the spread of officially-designated harmful species

  • Treatments with plant protection products that are necessary to fight a serious health hazard or plants that are threatening the survival of the historical or biological heritage, which cannot be controlled by any other means, including non-chemical methods.

It is unlikely that ivy destabilising a wall would fit into any of these categories, but it could perhaps be argued that it is causing a health hazard. 

However, a professional gardener would normally try to find an alternative solution, such as introducing insects whose larvae eat the plant or using substances which are less harmful for the environment. 

If it is possible to use herbicides on the ivy in your garden you will need to find a gardener whose firm has an agrément allowing them to use such substances. The gardener in question should also have a certificat individuel de formation (individual training certificate).

This agriculture ministry database may help you to find a firm which holds an agrément

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