Posted on: October 4, 2017

Healthy Lawns, Healthy Water

Healthy Lawns, Healthy Water 

Sometimes Florida yards need fertilizer to help keep them healthy, but applying too much fertilizer, too often or at the wrong time can cause water pollution. Recent studies have shown that rising nitrate levels in many local waterbodies can be traced to fertilizer. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that is found in inorganic fertilizers. When fertilizer is needed and applied correctly, the lawn absorbs the nitrogen. However, fertilizers applied improperly can run off lawns and into local waterbodies, harming water quality and threatening the plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival.

In an effort to protect the Village’s waterbodies, the Village adopted an Ordinance requiring fertilizer-friendly use practices on September 28th. In accordance with best practices, the Ordinance establishes certain fertilizer-free zones near waterbodies and prohibits the application of fertilizer:

  • from July 1st through October 31st, to saturated soils or when a tropical storm, hurricane or heavy rain is forecast.
  • within ten (10) feet of any waterbody.
  • within three (3) feet of any waterbody if a deflector shield, drop spreader or liquid applicator is utilized
  • within thirty (30) days of seeding or sodding.
  • to any impervious surface.

The Ordinance further requires that fertilizers be applied only at the application rates and frequency found on the fertilizer label. Fertilizer shall not, in any case, be swept or blown into the stormwater collection system or waterbody. To prevent fertilizer from washing into waterbodies, it’s important to know the right time to fertilize. Follow these tips before fertilizing:

  • Consider the time of year, climate, soil type and, most important, type of grass and health or condition of the lawn before applying fertilizer.
  • Fertilize only when the grass is actively growing. For instance, during the winter, grass is dormant in many areas of Florida; therefore, fertilizer is not necessary. Fertilizer applied when grass is not growing wastes your money and time, since it will not be beneficially used by the grass. Instead, it will leach through the soil or run off and pollute nearby waterbodies.
  • If your lawn has problem areas, find out if this is related to a pest, soil or environmental problem such as excess shade or the uneven distribution of irrigation water. These problems should be corrected and not just masked by fertilization.
  • If your household uses well or reclaimed water to irrigate, check it to determine if your water has nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in it, which are also in fertilizer. If so, you may not need to fertilize as much.

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Posted on: October 18, 2017