What is the Fertilizer Blackout and How to Prepare

What is the Fertilizer Blackout Period?

Fertilizer restrictions begin June 1st and run through September 30th. Better known as the “Blackout Period”, the fertilizer ban was first put in place in Palm Beach County in 2000. Then, the Town of Windermere followed in 2004, with Sarasota County following suit in 2007; Also staking claim as the first county to develop comprehensive ordinances, including a repeat offender fine scale, application guidelines and training requirements.

Fertilizer restrictions are in place, because local waters are experiencing a decline in water quality, which prompts concerns about our marine life, lakes and beaches, which in turn impact our economy. Like most hot button items, there are advocates and opponents of the Blackout Period.

Advocates for stricter fertilizer rules believe that our summer rainy season increases fertilizer runoff, which leads to water pollution. They point to research stating that if lawns and landscapes are managed appropriately, they can thrive without fertilizing during the summer rainy months.

Opponents argue that depriving lawns and landscapes of nutrients during the summer, when they are most able to absorb them, results in more nitrogen and phosphorous run off when applied at other times of the year. Turf roots naturally grow more shallow in the late fall, winter and early spring and deeper in summer months.

The Fertilizer Ban doesn’t exactly prohibit the application of fertilizer, rather it prohibits the use of nitrogen and phosphorous (“N” and “P”), which are the first 2 elements in fertilizer. However, potassium or “K” is allowed to be applied during the blackout period.

CliffNotes Version: Any fertilizer applied between June 1st and September 30th, must have 0 as the first 2 numbers of the analysis. Example: 0-0-62

The Fertilizer Ban primarily prohibits applying N and P on residential lawns, common areas and other landscapes that are simply aesthetic. Industries that cater to recreational activities, like golf courses, sports fields, and polo fields are not required to adhere to the Fertilizer Ban, albeit they must be trained and certified in Green Industry Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) by the county or extension agency in which they operate.

How to Prepare and Persevere

Now that you have learned what you can and cannot do during the fertilizer ban, you’re probably wondering how you will ever prepare your lawn and landscape and keep it green through the summer. We encourage you to act now, before the ban goes into place and you must comply with the restrictions.

Fertilize now with our 6 month, controlled release nitrogen blends from Florikan. With this fertilizer, you only have to apply 2 times per year for 12 months of benefits. For palms, shrubs, trees and citrus, use Florikan 8-2-12, for turf: 19-0-19 and for annuals and blooming plants: 14-5-14. Pro Tip: Need to fertilize palms, shrubs, trees, citrus AND turf? Use 8-2-12 for all.

In addition, our 25-2-10 is a great fertilizer blend designed to slowly feed turf and ornamental plants for up to 5 months. It is especially useful to be applied prior to the Fertilizer Ban, to ensure plants receive enough nitrogen to make it through the season.

If you prefer a more organic approach, now is a great time to add compost to your lawn and garden, not only to promote a level grade, but to add much needed nutrients to your soil. Compost is an excellent organic option that will feed your turf, landscape and soil now and through the summer months. Because of its organic nature, compost can be applied year round and does not have any restrictions.

Prepare your Lawn and Landscape

If you find that June 1st sneaks up on you and the Fertilizer Ban is already in affect, have no fear. Big Earth has a variety of products that can help your lawn and garden get through the ban, all while complying with the restrictions put in place.

Fertilizer Blackout Compliant Products

Whether you are ahead of the game on fertilizer and maintenance, or you’re wondering how we are already in the summer months, Big Earth is here to help. With a selection of professional products to get you through the Fertilizer Blackout, your lawn and landscape will be sure to emerge in the fall season looking its best.

Fertilizer restrictions vary by county and municipality. All information contained herein is an overview of ordinances, bans or restrictions. For questions, or the most up-to-date information, please contact your local governing agency or extension office.

Fertilizer Restrictions by County