Adhering to the county's fertilizer recommendations is important during Sarasota's rainy months.

Image: Karen Arango

Sarasota County is reminding locals to skip using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers on lawns from June 1 through Sept. 30 as part of an effort to keep the community's waterways healthy. The fertilizer-restricted ordinance, which was enacted in 2007, reduces the nutrients in stormwater and helps to protect natural habitats in creeks, lakes and marine waters that receive runoff from the county's stormwater system. 

According to Sarasota County's air and water quality manager John Hickey, during the rainy season lawns don't have enough time to absorb the nutrients in fertilizer. Nutrient runoff can cause harmful algal blooms that block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten aquatic life.

Familiarizing yourself with the county's regulations is important if you plan to maintain your own lawn care or hire a lawn care professional. The county offers the following tips to help keep your yard looking great during the summer: 

  • Look for products with "0-0" as the first two numbers on the fertilizer label.
  • Apply iron, found at most garden centers, as an effective and environmentally friendly alternative to keep lawns green during the summer.
  • Use compost to enrich the soil.
  • Hire lawn care professionals that display "Best Management Practices" fertilizer decals on their vehicles.
  • Buy plants adapted to Florida's hot and humid climate, and plant them in the appropriate places.
  • Mow higher to encourage deep roots that resist fungus and pests.
  • Sweep or blow grass clippings back into the yard. Do not direct clippings into the road, stormwater system or water bodies.

To learn more about fertilizer restricted season, or for more tips on how to keep the county's waterways healthy, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at (941) 861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net

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