How to keep the water blue and your lawn green

Fertilizer is a plant nutrient that helps grass and plants grow and stay healthy. Nutrients in fertilizer, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can help produce a lush, green lawn. Still, fertilizer should be used in moderation, as too much can lead to runoff that can negatively affect nearby water bodies. This runoff can lead to increased levels of nutrients in the water, which can cause algal blooms and low oxygen levels, killing off seagrass, harming aquatic life; leading to fish kills.

To avoid excess fertilizer runoff, following your local fertilizer ordinance is essential. Miami-Dade County adopted its Florida-Friendly fertilizer use on urban landscapes ordinance in April 2021. This ordinance was developed to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering our sensitive waterways and improve the health of Biscayne Bay. This ordinance includes the following regulations:

  1. Skip the fertilizer during the summer rainy season, May 15 – Oct. 31.
  2. Use only phosphorus-free fertilizer.
  3. Use fertilizers that contain at least 65% slow-release nitrogen.
  4. Apply fertilizer at least 20 feet away from storm drains and surface water bodies, such as canals, wetlands, lakes, or the bay.
  5. Manage yard clippings to prevent them from entering stormwater drainage systems or water bodies.
  6. If you apply fertilizers as part of your job, get training on the best management practices (BMPs) that help protect water resources.

Here are five tips to have a green lawn without fertilizer:

  1. Aerate your lawn regularly to promote healthy root growth.
  2. Mow your lawn to the correct height and leave the clippings in place. They are a great natural fertilizer!
  3. Keep your lawn well-watered, but don't overwater.
  4. Use compost and other organic materials to fertilize your lawn.
  5. Use organic weed control (and one that doesn’t contain glyphosate) to keep weeds from taking over.

If you don’t live in Miami-Dade County, you can learn about your local Florida fertilizer regulations by clicking the image below.

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