Florida Friendly Landscaping
Ordinance Updates for Fertilizer Application & Florida-friendly Landscaping
Have you ever seen someone apply lawn fertilizer before it rains? What about a potable irrigation system operating while it is raining? When asked most of the people are just trying to be conscious about water conservation, while the intention is good, the use of fertilizers creates a risk contributing to adverse effects on surface and ground water. If you have ever seen cattail overgrowth or algae blooms, this is caused by fertilizer run-off into lakes and ponds.
In an effort to educate property owners about eco-friendly practices, the City is required to review and amend its existing Fertilizer Application Ordinance & the Florida Friendly Landscaping Practices and Irrigation Systems Ordinance, every five (5) years as part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES). The Fertilizer Ordinance regulates proper use of fertilizers, establishes a prohibited application period, and specifies allowable fertilizer application rates and methods to help improve and maintain water and habitat quality. While the Florida Friendly Landscaping Ordinance intends to establish minimum standards for development, installation, and maintenance of Florida-Friendly Landscape areas without inhibiting creative landscape design, using Specific Best Management Practices (BMPs).
The City encourages residents and business owners to review the updated ordinances, linked below, as there have been a number of edits made. A few updates and tips have been summarized below:
Application of fertilizer use is prohibited during the summer rainy season (typically June 1st through September 30th). In addition to this direction, residents should be mindful of the proper fertilizer to use at other times of the year. For good guidance, we refer to Dr. Lauri Treholm, in Florida Turf Digest, March/April, 2019, who recommends residents fertilize with a long-term controlled release product at the end of May. Then, when the restrictive period is over, October 1st, use fertilizer with a more soluble nitrogen component, such as Sulphur coated urea. Fertilizer used will depend on lawn type. Read more information on fertilizer bags and look for language indicating “slow release”. More technically, this would mean about one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet and zero (0) phosphorous.
Rain shut-off switch equipment is required on automatic irrigation systems to avoid irrigation during periods of sufficient soil moistures. Equipment must consist of an automatic sensing device that will override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when adequate rainfall has occurred.
Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping
- Right Plant, Right Place:
- Plants selected to suit a specific site will require minimal amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides.
- Water Efficiently:
- Irrigate only when your lawn needs water. Efficient watering is the key to a healthy yard and conservation of limited resources.
- 10 Tips for Efficient Irrigation
- Fertilize Appropriately:
- Less is often best. Over-use of fertilizers can be hazardous to your yard and the environment
- Maintain two to three inches of mulch to help retain soil moisture, prevent erosion and suppress weeds.
- Attract Wildlife:
- Plants in your yard that provide food, water and shelter can conserve Florida’s diverse wildlife.
- Manage Yard Pests Responsibly:
- Unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms and the environment.
- Grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings composted and recycled on site provide nutrients to the soil and reduce waste disposal.
- Reduce Stormwater Runoff:
- Water running off your yard can carry pollutants, such as fertilizer, pesticides, soil and debris that can harm water quality. Reduction of this runoff will help prevent pollution.
- Protect the Waterfront:
- Waterfront property, whether on a river, stream, pond, bay or beach, is very fragile and should be carefully protected to maintain freshwater and marine ecosystems.