Fertilizer-restricted season underway in Sarasota County

Ordinance enacted in 2007 strives to keep harmful nutrients out of waterways and Sarasota Bay

Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County staff is reminding the public to skip using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers on lawns and landscapes from June 1 through Sept. 30, as part of an effort to keep the community’s waterways healthy.

A county ordinance enacted in 2007 calls for the seasonal ban as a means of reducing the load of nutrients that enters stormwater; it helps protect natural habitats in creeks, lakes and other waters that receive runoff from the county stormwater system, a news release explains.

Sarasota County Air and Water Quality Manager John Hickey points out in the release that landscapes during the rainy season do not have enough time to absorb the nutrients in fertilizer, so the nutrients wash away. “Nutrient runoff can cause harmful algal blooms that block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten aquatic life,” the release stresses.

“While you may think that your own yard may play an inconsequential part in the overall effects of nutrient pollution,” Hickey said in the release, “it is important to remember that collectively, all of the yards add up. Through proper landscape maintenance techniques, and with everyone’s cooperation, we can keep our yards and waterways healthy,” Hickey added.

“Familiarizing yourself with the regulations is important if you are doing your own lawn care or hiring a trained lawn care professional,” the release continues. The following tips will help keep your yard looking great during the summer:

  • Look for products with “0-0” as the first two numbers on the fertilizer label.
  • Apply iron, found at most garden centers, as an effective and environmentally friendly alternative to keep lawns green during the summer.
  • Use compost to enrich the soil.
  • Hire lawn care professionals who display “Best Management Practices” fertilizer decals on their vehicles.
  • Buy plants adapted to Florida’s hot and humid climate, and plant them in the appropriate places.
  • Mow higher to encourage deep roots that resist fungus and pests.
  • Sweep or blow grass clippings back into the yard. Do not direct clippings into the road, stormwater system or water bodies.

To learn more about the fertilizer-restricted season, or for more tips on how to keep the county’s waterways healthy, call the county Contact Center at 861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.