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Fertilizer Ordinance – Restricted Season is in effect

By Ralph E. Mitchell

The Charlotte County Fertilizer Ordinance (as well as the Ordinance issued by the City of Punta Gorda) was developed to allow for maintaining healthy landscapes while still keeping our water bodies clean.  As we are now in the “rainy season” here in Charlotte County, please keep in mind that we do have a Fertilizer Ordinance and that the Restricted Season started June 1st.  Let’s take a glance at the overall aspects of the Charlotte County Fertilizer Ordinance.

As mentioned above,  no fertilizer containing Nitrogen or Phosphorus may be applied from June 1st  to September 30th  to turf or landscape plants.  This period of time is known as the “Restricted Season”.  However, nutrients such as  soluble potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, and manganese can be applied (if needed) during this time.  A fertilizer mix such as this is often called a “Summer Blend” and is available as a granular formulation – something like a 0-0-24 or its equivalent.   Additionally, liquid nutrient sprays containing micro-nutrients can also be used during this season being careful as these materials can stain concrete and stone work.

During the remainder of the year when you select a fertilizer to use, make sure that it contains at least a 50% slow-release nitrogen formulation.   This slow-release formulation allows the nitrogen to be supplied to plants over a longer period of time.  You will have to carefully examine the fertilizer label to determine if the product is a 50% slow-release nitrogen product. There is a limit as to how much nitrogen can be applied per year – no more than four (4) pounds of actual Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year total.  This is applied at a rate of up to one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application.

Make sure to maintain a mandatory fertilizer-free zone within ten (10) feet of any water body or wetland –  3 feet if a deflector shield is used on your spreader.  Deflector shields on spreaders are key to making sure fertilizer only ends up on your lawn!  Some areas may have greater set-back requirements.

Watch and limit your phosphorus applications as per the state Urban Turf Fertilizer Rule.  In fact, do not exceed 0.25 pounds per 1,000 square feet at each application, and no more than a total of 0.5 pound per 1,000 square feet per year. We generally have plenty of this nutrient  in our soil already and, as such, no additional phosphorus is needed.  A soil test can confirm this and may act as supporting documentation if any additional is required.  Remember to remove grass clippings from the roadway, storm drains, and ditches.  No grass clippings, vegetative material, or vegetative debris may be deposited in stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies, or roadways.

Keep in mind that this Ordinance applies to both homeowners and those who apply fertilizer commercially within Charlotte County and the City of Punta Gorda.   All Commercial Green Industry applicators of fertilizer (except homeowners on their own property) must receive training and certification in a Charlotte County-approved Green Industries – Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) training program. With this successfully completed certification,  all commercial fertilizer applicators must then apply for a  Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification from the State  in order to make any type of fertilizer application to commercial turf or ornamental areas.  Please contact the Charlotte County Extension Service (941.764.4340) for class schedules and additional information.

This article has briefly touched on the things you need to know about our Fertilizer Ordinance.  Please refer to our website on this topic at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/03/2018Fertilizer-Ordinance.1.pdf for more information.  You can also see the City of Punta Gorda Ordinance at http://www.ci.punta-gorda.fl.us/home/showdocument?id=1437.   Additionally, for more information on all types of gardening information, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/03/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf.

Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov.

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