Fertilize Properly

1. Overview

When you apply too much fertilizer to your yard, the unabsorbed excess gets washed away as stormwater runoff and ends up in our local lakes. Nutrients from fertilizer, like nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), promote the growth of algae and aquatic weeds, threaten the life of native plants and animals, and can cause major declines in water quality.

Over-fertilization not only leads to water quality problems, but it will stress your lawn and decrease its quality. Proper fertilizing results in healthier lawns that require less watering, have fewer pest and disease problems and have less thatch build up. Save money and promote healthy lawns and lakes by fertilizing responsibly. 

2. What Fertilizer Should I Use?

Use Zero-Phosphorus Fertilizer

Florida soils are naturally rich in phosphorus and don't need additional amounts. Added phosphorus will end up in our lakes instead of your yard. Look for the N-P-K number to have a 0 in the middle.

Use a 65% Slow-Release Nitrogen Formula

These fertilizers are designed to allow nitrogen to release over time, maximizing your yard's consumption of the nutrient. This will keep your yard looking good longer and save you money in the long run.

Follow the Label Instructions

The instructions on the bag will help you calculate how much fertilizer to use, as well as when and where to use it. These labels are in accordance with federal and state laws.

3. How Should I Apply Fertilizer?

Only Fertilize When Your Yard Needs It

If your yard already has the right amount of nutrients present, your lawn won't soak up any of the extra that you have added. All of those extra nutrients will be washed down the drain. If your lawn appears yellow during the summer months, apply an iron product to restore the green.  Extra fertilizer will not make your lawn greener. From June 1 to September 30, only apply fertilizer that has zero nitrogen and zero phosphorus.

Never Fertilize Before a Rainstorm

If heavy rain is in the 2-day forecast, wait to fertilize. Any more than 1/4 inch of water may wash away the work you just did. Use a 25-foot "fertilizer free" zone around bodies of water. When spreading fertilizer, stay at least 25 feet away from the water's edge and use a deflector shield on your fertilizer spreader.

Clean up All Spills

If fertilizer ends up on a paved surface such as a driveway, sidewalk or street, sweep it back onto your lawn or collect it for later use.

4. What if I Hire Someone to Take Care of my Yard?

Check their Certification

Always check to make sure your landscaper is Green Industries Best Management Practices Certified (GI-BMP). This is a required training for all professional landscapers to obtain their Fertilizer Applicator’s License in Florida. 

Know What They're Doing in Your Yard 

Ask your lawn maintenance company what their fertilizer plan is for your yard. It should follow the guidelines listed above.