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Skip the Fertilizer to Keep Summer Safe for Waterways
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Summer rains wash fertilizer into lakes and oceans, spoiling the water and ruining summer’s fun. That’s why it’s illegal in Pinellas County to fertilize lawns during the rainy season, and it’s also the reason slow-release products are required the rest of the year.
Starting June 1 through Sept. 30, skip the fertilizer. Fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus cannot be applied to lawns or landscape plants, according to Pinellas County ordinance. Incorrect use of fertilizer can allow nutrients to leach into the groundwater and wash into storm drains that flow to creeks, lakes, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Excess nutrients can cause harmful algae blooms, which lower oxygen levels and lead to fish kills. The treatment to remove these nutrients costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
During the rest of the year, use fertilizers properly. Here’s how:
- Make fertilizer selections based on need. Decide which nutrients will give you the result that you want for your lawn, and then buy only those.
- Use fertilizers sparingly to reduce nitrate levels. Less is better. Read and follow all instructions on the package.
- Do not fertilize when storm events are forecast. This will help reduce the level of nutrients washing into water systems during and after the storm.
- Select slow-release fertilizers. They are kinder to the environment and usually cost less. Look for terms such as “time-released,” “slow-release” or “water insoluble nitrogen” on the fertilizer’s package.
- Remember to fertilize only when needed. Do not apply more than one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of grass.
Do your part to preserve Clearwater’s water, coastlines and wildlife – the very things that help make this city bright and beautiful. For more information about fertilizers or how to protect our waterways, visit watermatters.org or befloridian.com.
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