Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law ----- NEW as of October 1, 2013

Maryland’s new lawn fertilizer law is designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay from excess nutrients entering its waters from a variety of urban sources, including golf courses, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields, businesses and hundreds of thousands of suburban and urban lawns.
Nutrients—primarily nitrogen and phosphorus—are key ingredients in lawn fertilizer. When it rains, excess nutrients can wash off the land and into the streams and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay. Once in our waterways, excess fertilizers contribute to the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching Bay grasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten underwater life.
Lawn fertilizer now accounts for approximately 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland. While certain restrictions on fertilizer use have been in place for farmers since 2001, additional stakeholder involvement is needed if Maryland is to meet new nutrient reduction goals outlined in its Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to restore the Bay. Maryland’s new lawn fertilizer law affects fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, lawn care professionals and homeowners.
Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law—
What you should know.
Beginning October 1, 2013
Homeowners and do-it-yourselfers will be required to follow University of Maryland recommendations when fertilizing lawns. Mandatory restrictions, similar to those imposed for lawn care professionals, apply:
  • Homeowners must follow University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations when applying nitrogen to lawns.
  • A single application may not exceed 0.9 pound total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and 0.7 pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Visit for seasonal and yearly recommendations.
  • Homeowners are prohibited from applying fertilizer to sidewalks, driveways or other impervious surfaces. Any product that lands on these surfaces must be swept back onto lawns.
  • No fertilizer applications within 15 feet of waterways. This setback is reduced to 10 feet if a drop spreader, rotary spreader with deflector or targeted spray liquid is used to apply fertilizer.
  • No lawn fertilizer may be applied between November 15 and March 1 and when the ground is frozen.
  • Fertilizers may not be used to de-ice walkways and driveways.
  • Do not fertilize if heavy rain is predicted.
  • Phosphorus may only be applied to lawns when indicated by soil test results or when the homeowner is establishing, patching or renovating a lawn.
          Enforcement Authority and More Information
A county, municipality or MDA may enforce these requirements for homeowners.   This law pre-empts any existing local ordinances.
         Maryland Department of Agriculture
Nutrient Management Program
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway Annapolis, MD 21401 

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