Rainy season fertilizer restrictions through Sept. 30

Residents and landscapers are reminded that Pinellas County’s fertilizer ordinance prohibits the sale or application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorous between June 1 and Sept. 30. Phosphorous cannot be used at any time of the year unless a soil test confirms that 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 ordinance regulates landscape maintenance practices year-round and the sale and use of fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorous during the rainy season. Homeowners, landscapers and lawn care services must follow the practices outlined in the ordinance or face fines up to $10,000 per day. All landscapers and fertilizer applicators in the county must display a Pinellas County-certification vehicle decal.

The nitrogen/phosphorous ban helps prevent fertilizer runoff from reaching lakes, ponds, rivers, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and from leaching into groundwater. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous 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 phosphorous nutrients in our waterbodies since the ordinance was enacted.

Pinellas County recommends using summer-safe 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 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.

Pinellas County is one of more than 90 Florida communities that have summertime fertilizer restrictions.

Landscapers and residents looking for more tips on landscape practices, reclaimed water, and fertilizer application can visit www.pinellascounty.org/fertilizer.