Lib Dem group leader Councillor Robert Brown had put forward a motion that would have seen the council end its use of pesticides once a suitable alternative had been found.
The motion to the full council would have brought South Lanarkshire into line with a number of councils across the UK, including neighbouring North Lanarkshire.
Councillor Brown said: “This is a motion about public health and biodiversity. We are primarily concerned about weed killer which constitutes about 80 per cent of all pesticide use.
“Weed killer is one of a cocktail of substances to which human beings and plant and animal life are exposed to which act together to increase harmful effects.
“Reducing overall exposure by reducing their use in public spaces would help to decrease the risk of harmful health effects.”
However, an amendent from SNP councillor Peter Craig called for more detail before any decision should be taken.
Support from the Labour and independent groups wasn’t enough for Councillor Brown’s motion as councillors voted by 36 to 23 to pass Councillor Craig’s amendment.
A paper will now be brought to a meeting of the council’s climate change committee outlining the extent of pesticide use across South Lanarkshire by the council and implications of becoming pesticide-free.
Councillor Craig said: “I actually think it is an important issue to be discussed.
“The reason I find myself moving this amendment is to ensure we discuss it even more fully with a greater background knowledge.
“My particular worry is on the crashing numbers of pollinating insects and the reasons behind that are not clear.
“That is why I am asking to have this moved to the climate change committee.”
Independent councillor Jim Wardhaugh admitted he wasn’t sure why they needed to put the motion to the climate change committee as he felt the amendment was “kicking things into the long grass”.
In countries like France the national government has already banned the use of pesticides in managing public spaces.
Conservative group leader Councillor Alex Allison does not use pesticides on his own farm, but refused to support the motion claiming it was “jumping on a bandwagon”.