Pinellas County’s rainy season fertilizer restrictions took effect Monday (June 1) and run through Sept. 30.
Residents are reminded that the county’s fertilizer ordinance prohibits the sale or application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus during that time frame. Phosphorus cannot be used at any time of the year unless a soil test confirms it is needed. Also, fertilizer can never be applied within 10 feet from the top of a slope leading to a seawall, wetland or waterbody.
The county regulates landscape maintenance practice all year. Homeowners, landscapers and lawn care services must follow the practices outlined in the ordinance to protect water quality. All landscapers and fertilizer applicators who provide services within the county are required to display a Pinellas County-certification vehicle decal.
The nitrogen/phosphorus ban helps prevent fertilizer runoff from negatively affecting lakes, ponds, rivers, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and from leaching into groundwater. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can cause harmful algae blooms that lower oxygen levels and lead to fish kills. Water quality testing by Pinellas County Environmental Management has shown significant reductions in both total nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients in area waterbodies since the ordinance was enacted.
Pinellas County recommends using summer-safe lawn care products and landscaping best management practices to keep a healthy landscape during the summer:
- Look for products with “0-0” as the first two numbers on the fertilizer label.
- Apply iron to keep lawns green during the summer without increasing growth.
- Use compost to enrich soil.
- Set lawn mower blade heights between 3½ inches to 4 inches for St. Augustine and Bahia turf to encourage deep roots that resist drought, fungus and pests.
- Buy plants adapted to Florida’s hot and humid climate and plant them in places that suit their sun and water needs.
- Use the reclaimed water nutrient concentration map to help reduce application of excess nitrogen to landscapes from October through May each year.
Pinellas County is one of more than 90 Florida communities that have summertime fertilizer restrictions.
Residents looking for more tips on landscape practices, reclaimed water, and fertilizer application can go to pinellascounty.org or phone Rick at 727-277-5152