10 Everyday Backyard Hazards and How to Fix Them

Your Chemical Romance
Many lawn treatments contain high levels of toxins. Know what you're dealing with and minimize exposure. ŠiStockphoto/Thinkstock

Visit your local hardware store and you'll see shelf after shelf of lawn and garden chemicals. These are supposed to be toxic -- they're designed to kill insect pests or control invasive plants. So perhaps it's not surprising that they can be poisonous to people and pets, too.

Homeowners are often overzealous in their applications of pesticides and herbicides. Many people apply 10 times more chemicals than farmers apply to their crops [source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]. Some people think that more chemicals mean a greener, more controlled lawn.

But improper application of chemicals has a whole range of known consequences. Small children, fetuses and even adults can suffer from exposure to pesticides through damage to brain, reproductive and other bodily systems. Just as bad, many chemicals also carry unknown risks.

The best way to avoid problems is to keep your exposure to a minimum. Don't use chemicals unless you absolutely have to, and when you do, actually take the time to read and follow the application instructions. Slopping around the yard with gallons of pesticide and no personal protection is simply asking for trouble.