June 1 marks start of annual fertilizer restrictions in Sarasota County in effort to improve water quality

Residents advised especially not to use fertilizer that contains nitrogen or phosphorus

Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County staff is reminding the public that June 1 marks the beginning of the fertilizer-restricted season, which is part of an effort to keep area waterways healthy.

“Nutrient pollution is a widespread and challenging environmental issue for waterways throughout the county,” a news release points out. “You can help reduce nutrient pollution this rainy season by using environmentally friendly or alternative landscaping and lawn fertilizer from June 1 through Sept. 30,” it adds.

County Air and Water Quality Supervisor John Morgan notes in the release that environmentally friendly fertilizers contain zero nitrogen and zero phosphorus. “Excess amounts of these naturally occurring nutrients can create a harmful imbalance when washed away into storm drains and carried to local water bodies,” the release adds.

“Reducing the amount of nutrients collected by stormwater runoff helps protect natural habitats in area waterways that receive runoff from our stormwater system,” Morgan said in the release. “We are a growing community, and it will take a community effort to reduce nutrient pollution and continue having healthy waterways, beaches and more,” he added in the release.

The county’s Fertilizer and Landscape Management ordinance “was enacted in 2007 to help preserve and protect natural resources and natural habitats in area waterways throughout the county,” the release points out. “The amount of rainfall expected during the rainy season increases the likelihood of a surge of in nutrients in waterways. Excessive nutrients contribute to algae blooms, diminish water quality, and threaten aquatic life,” the release explains.

“Community members can determine whether their fertilizer may be used during the restricted season, June 1 through Sept. 30, by checking the numbers,” the release says. The first number represents nitrogen; the second, phosphorus; and the third, potassium or potash. “Only fertilizers containing zero nitrogen and zero phosphorous may be used during the restricted season,” the release stresses.

“The following tips will help keep your yard looking great during the summer,” the release notes:

  • 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.
  • Buy plants adapted to Florida’s hot and humid climate.
  • Mow higher to encourage deep roots that resist fungus and pests.
  • Sweep grass clippings back into the yard, or recycle them in a compost pile. Do not allow grass clippings to be washed into storm drains.
  • Adhere to watering restrictions; even-numbered addresses water only on Tuesday and odd-numbered addresses water only on Thursdays.
  • Remember irrigation is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. More information about water restrictions may be found here.

To learn more about air and water quality in Sarasota County, or for more tips on how to keep the county’s waterways healthy, call the county Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit scgov.net.