There is so much to know about the care and maintenance of our yards it is sometimes hard to know where to begin, and with all the talk about fertilizer run-off polluting our lakes and streams, knowing the best methods and restrictions for applying fertilizer is very important. The following basics for fertilizing lawns that is based on the recently adopted Orange County Fertilizer Management Ordinance, which went into effect on March 1, 2010. It covers all of Orange County including the City of Apopka.
According to the new rule, property owners need to only use lawn fertilizers that contain zero phosphorus and no less than 50% slow-release nitrogen, and to apply no more than one pound (1 lb.) of nitrogen per 1000 square feet for any one application. The ordinance advises not to fertilize lawns when severe storm warnings are in place or within three-days of a tropical storm or hurricane. Florida's typical rainy season is from June 1st to September 30th.
The ordinance states that when using a broadcast spreader, equip it with a shield positioned to deflect fertilizer from impervious pavement, rights-of-way, stormwater drains and ditches. Also, be sure to sweep up fertilizer that falls on driveways, streets, and sidewalks, and avoid blowing the fertilizer, lawn clippings or leaves into the street or down storm drains.
Orange County is providing an education campaign to inform residents, businesses, and lawn care professionals about the new lawn fertilization ordinance, and good stewardship practices to keep other nutrients from entering surface waters and wetlands. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ training also provides proper fertilization techniques during the black-out period and can be obtained through the Orange County Extension, as well as other programs accessed through the Orange County EPD website. Homeowners, businesses, and HOAs who wish to learn more about installing, designing and caring for their landscapes can seek landscape education from Orange County’s Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program (FYNP).