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There are three ordinances within Sarasota County: Sarasota County, the Town of Longboat Key, and the City of North Port. While they are all similar in most respects, a few differences exist. Here is a breakdown of the ordinances. View (or download and print) the codes in a handy brochure format.

Note: Venice has adopted and follows the Sarasota County ordinance.

Best Management Practices

All applicators of fertilizer (except homeowners on their own property) must receive training and certification in a Sarasota County-approved Best Management Practices (BMP) training program.

Restricted Season

The restricted season calls for a blackout period from June 1 to Sept. 30. During this period, no fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus should be applied to turf or landscape plants. This applies to Sarasota County, and the Town of Longboat Key. The City of North Port follows the same rule during this period, but allows the use of nitrogen and phosphorus to landscape plants. There is no limit placed on the amount of potash that can be applied. New plantings of turf and landscape may be fertilized only for a 60-day establishment period.

Fertilizer-free Zone

The Town of Longboat Key is to maintain a 3-foot buffer of any water body or wetland or a 10-foot buffer if a deflector shield is used. The rest of Sarasota County must maintain a 10-foot buffer and use a deflector shield. All of Sarasota County: no fertilizer may be applied to impervious (non-porous) surfaces, and any spillage must be removed. The City of North Port requires that no fertilizer be applied within the channel flow of any swales.

Grass Clippings

For all of Sarasota County, no grass clippings, vegetative material or debris may be deposited in stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies or roadways.

Low-maintenance Zone

This is voluntary for all of Sarasota County. Sarasota County and the City of North Port recommend a 6-foot low-maintenance zone from any pond, stream, water course, lake or canal or any designated wetland, or from the top of a seawall. The Town of Longboat Key promotes the use of a low-maintenance zone around water bodies, but does not have a specific distance recommendation.

Deflector Shields

Spreader deflector shields are required when fertilizing via rotary (broadcast) spreaders for all of Sarasota County. Deflectors must be positioned so that fertilizer granules are deflected away from all impervious surfaces, fertilizer-free zones, water bodies and wetlands. The Town of Longboat Key requires a deflector shield within 3 feet of any water body or wetland. The City of North Port requires the use of one within 10 feet of any water body. Sarasota County does not have a required distance within water bodies.

Nitrogen Applications

For all of Sarasota County, nitrogen fertilizer applications must contain at least 50 percent slow-release nitrogen. No more than 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet may be applied to turf or landscape plants per year.

Phosphorus Applications

For all of Sarasota County, phosphorus fertilizer applications shall not exceed 0.25 pounds per 1,000 square feet, nor exceed 0.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet for the per year.

More information

Contact the responsible authority directly to learn more:


Visit the UF/IFAS Extension Green Industries Best Management Practices web site to view online, in-person, and DVD training opportunities.