Martin County has adopted lawn fertilizer controls that restricts phosphorus and nitrogen all year long. Martin County’s strong fertilizer ordinance has served as a model for over forty other communities along the Indian River Lagoon to adopt. The fertilizer restrictions aim to reduce the amount of harmful nutrients entering local water bodies, a crucial step towards improving and maintaining water and habitat quality.
During the application period of October 1 through May 30 fertilizer containing phosphorus is banned and nitrogen must be 50% slow release. Additionally, vegetative material, including grass clippings, cannot be washed, swept, or blown into stormwater drains, waterbodies or impervious areas. The ordinance applies to anyone, personal or professional, landscaping in unincorporated Martin County. The fertilizer ordinance includes exceptions for agriculture, golf courses, athletic fields and for lawns that soil tests have indicated a need for phosphorus.
How Fertilizers Are Harmful to Waterways:
Nutrients — primarily nitrogen and phosphorus — are key ingredients in lawn fertilizer. When it rains, lawn fertilizer can wash into nearby storm drains and canals that empty into the St. Lucie River and contribute to the growth of algae blooms. Once in our waterways, excess fertilizers fuel the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching seagrasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten underwater life.
Don't Let the Green Flow Downstream: You Can Help!
- Make sure the middle number, Phosphorus (P), on your bag is zero - unless a soil test reveals a deficiency.
- Make sure the Nitrogen (N) on your fertilizer bag is 50% slow release.
- Do not use a fertilizer with Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) during the restricted period: June 1 through September 30.
- Fertilize only when rain is not forecasted; otherwise, fertilizer will wash away into the ground water and ultimately into our waterways.
- Keep a 25-foot, fertilizer-free buffer from all water bodies.
- Use deflector shields to keep fertilizer granules away from all impervious surfaces, fertilizer-free zones, no-mow zones, and water bodies.
- Keep all grass clippings and vegetative material away from streets, storm drains, and water bodies.