Every one of us has the ability to make a positive difference to the health of our amazing planet, and this can be something as simple as selecting gardening products that have a low environmental impact rating and are safe for human use. Overuse of any garden product can lead to chemical and nutrient pollution in our waterways as well as potentially impacting on beneficial critters in our own garden. So knowing which product to select, when faced with a plethora of ‘plantastic products’ in the local garden centre, can be very daunting. That’s where the SGA Garden Product Guide – Safe for You ‘n’ Nature comes in.

Picking the Right Products

SGA promotes non-chemical methods to prevent pest and disease problems in the garden as the first line of defence, but there are times when gardeners will want to choose a chemical solution. When faced with this decision, then choose one of the safe and low environmental impact alternatives from our Garden Product Guide. Mother Nature will thank you for it! All available products have been given a rating of 1 – 6 Stars and all that are listed here have achieved a 6 Star rating. And all products are periodically re-assessed to ensure that any changes to formulations, packaging or active ingredients have been accounted for. Oh, and just so you know, SGA does not endorse any product or receive financial benefit from the development of this guide or from the sale of any of these products.

About the Garden Product Guide

In a project initiated by Burnley Horticultural College (now part of the University of Melbourne), SGA has developed the first rating system for garden chemicals, fertilisers and soil conditioners in Australia. The assessment of over 1000 products is based on regulatory poison schedule ratings, such as the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) rating, information from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and from the manufacturers’ Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). The environmental impact rating information that determines ecotoxicity, such as soil mobility, persistence, bioaccumulation, potential to pollute waterways and toxicity to non-target organisms is derived from authoritative sources such as government departments, international research organisations and current scientific research publications.

Also taken into account are factors which may pose risks to users or children: the capacity of the packaging to prevent inadvertent exposure and whether the mode of delivery e.g. as an aerosol or powder might increase the likelihood of inhalation of toxic material.

Scores for all criteria are then used to give a rating on a 6 Star basis, letting consumers know exactly how safe their chosen product is and how it may impact on humans and the immediate and wider environment which determine  the health of our planet, both now and in the future.

The assessment system, at this stage, does not take into account a Life Cycle Analysis (e.g how much energy was used in making the product?) apart from product packaging. New products and changes to existing garden products are identified through manufacturer or distributor websites or notification from their representatives.

You will notice that there are only a few products that have achieved a 6 Star rating. Many more have a 5 Star rating with relatively low safety and environmental impacts. Currently we are listing the 6 Star-rated products for pest and weed control, plant diseases and some miscellaneous products (click on the linked headings below) while, over the next few weeks, we complete the ratings for fertilisers, soil improvers and wetting agents.

We are currently working on making a full list of garden product ratings available as a web App with details of their active constituents, soil mobility and persistence and bioaccumulation along with information on their toxicity for humans and other mammals, birds, aquatic organisms and bees.  So please be patient while we finish the research!

Pest Control Products

Bugs, slugs, aphids and other things that munch and crunch on your precious plants.

Plant Disease Products

Spots, wilts, fungi, moulds and other plant problems.

Weed Control Products

Dealing with those unwanted garden interlopers.

Miscellaneous Products


Chemical Terms

Some chemical names can be confusing.  Explanations here can help.