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The rainy season is officially here! Residents and commercial landscapers in Pinellas County are reminded to temporarily stop using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. June 1 – Sept. 30, which is typically the end of our rainy season, fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus are prohibited. Phosphorus is restricted year-round without a proper soil test as Florida soils are naturally abundant in phosphorus.
Limiting fertilizer use prevents additional pollutants from entering storm drains and water bodies such as rivers, lakes, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous can cause harmful algae blooms that can lower oxygen levels and lead to fish kills. Treatment to remove these excess nutrients could cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
Follow these Florida-friendly lawn care practices to keep a healthy landscape over the summer:
•Look for products with “0-0” as the first two numbers on the fertilizer label.
•Apply iron, found at most garden centers, to keep lawns green during the summer without increasing growth which will lessen the amount of mowing required.
•Use compost to enrich soil.
•Set lawn mower blades between 3 and a half to 4 inches for St. Augustine grass to encourage deep roots that resist fungus and pests.
•Buy plants adapted to Florida’s hot and humid climate and plant them in places according to sun and water needs.
•Hire lawn care professionals that display Best Management Practices decals on their vehicles.
•Sweep or blow grass clippings back into the yard. Do not direct clippings into the road, stormwater system or water bodies.
Pinellas County is one of more than 90 Florida communities that have summertime fertilizer restrictions.
Landscapers and residents looking for more tips on skipping fertilizer can visit, www.befloridian.org. Pinellas County has an ordinance in place regulating landscape practices and fertilizer sale. To learn more, visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/environment/watershed/fertilizer.htm.