ORLANDO, Fla. —More than half of Florida’s counties have adopted a fertilizer ordinance, including Marion, Orange, Volusia and Seminole. This ordinance was implemented as nutrient impairment of waterbodies and springs has become a major concern throughout the state.
It prohibits applying fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus to turf or landscaping between June 1 and Sept. 30. The ordinance also requires that fertilizers contain a minimum 50 percent slow-release nitrogen content and prohibits fertilizer from being applied within 15 feet of waterbodies.
Rules to Follow for Residential and Commercial Use in Orange County
- All areas of property covered by lawn, turf and landscape plants are subject to the fertilizer ordinance.
- Fertilizers containing phosphorus are prohibited unless soil test shows deficiency.
- Fertilizers containing nitrogen applied in Orange County must contain 50 percent slow release nitrogen, until 65 percent slow-release becomes available (expected by July 2020).
- Deflector shields must be in place when broadcast spreaders are used next to streets, inlets, ditches, conveyances and waterways.
- No fertilizer or grass clippings shall be deposited on streets, driveways or in storm drains.
- No fertilizer can be applied within 15 feet from waterways.
- Application sites must maintain a 10-foot low maintenance zone – planted area with no fertilizing, mowing or maintenance – adjacent to water bodies.
- No fertilizer shall be applied when the National Weather Service issues any advisory for severe thunderstorm, flood, tropical storm or hurricane.
For Commercial and Business Use Only
- Commercial applicators must show proof of training by displaying decals on vehicles used during application.
- Proof of training must be provided in order to obtain an Orange County local business tax certificate for businesses that provide landscape services.
- Commercial applicators who need decals can contact EPD@ocfl.net with proof of training to have decals mailed to their business.
- Retail businesses that sell fertilizer must post a notice provided by Orange County regarding the ordinance.
- Retailers who need posters may download a digital poster or contact EPD@ocfl.net to have posters mailed to their business.
Golf courses, bona-fide agricultural operation and sports fields are exempt from the ordinance.
The consequences of noncompliance in residential areas are a written notice for the very first violation, fifty dollar fine on the second and one hundred dollar fine on the third.
For commercial properties/use however, the first violation will still be a written notice, but second and third violations increase to five hundred and seven hundred and fifty dollar fines.
Keep in mind that by doing something as simple as choosing fertilizer carefully and applying it properly, together we can make a big impact on the health of our natural water bodies helping prevent algae blooms and poor water quality.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the following are good application practices:
- Spreader deflector shields are required when fertilizing via rotary (broadcast) spreaders. Deflectors must be positioned such that fertilizer granules are deflected away from all impervious surfaces, fertilizer-free zones and water bodies, including wetlands.
- Fertilizer shall not be applied, spilled, or otherwise deposited on any impervious surfaces.
- Any fertilizer applied, spilled, or deposited, either intentionally or accidentally, on any impervious surface shall be immediately and completely removed to the greatest extent practicable.
- Fertilizer released on an impervious surface must be immediately contained and either legally applied to turf or any other legal site, or returned to the original or other appropriate container.
- In no case shall fertilizer be washed, swept, or blown off impervious surfaces into stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, or water bodies.