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Concern about the harmful environmental impact to both surface water and groundwater quality caused by leaching of nitrate and phosphorus dictates sound fertilization practices to ensure that the nitrogen and phosphorus applied is utilized by the plants and not lost below the root zone to pollute surface water and our bay.

To address this concern, Sarasota County and its municipalities approved ordinances regulating the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus. These ordinances apply to anyone applying fertilizer on turf and/or landscape plants. Homeowners are encouraged to utilize the recommendations of the UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program

One of the best ways to prevent pollution is to use caution when applying fertilizers. Some Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ fertilizer recommendations are:

  • Do not fertilize when heavy rain is expected.
  • Leave a 10-foot-wide, no-fertilizer zone (a "Ring of Responsibility") around or along water bodies.
  • Established trees and shrubs (more than 3 years old) generally do not need supplemental fertilizer. Over-fertilization encourages excessive growth that results in increased demand for pruning.
  • Fertilizer type depends on soil conditions. Nutritional deficiencies can develop due to soil conditions, such as high pH or compacted soils, or damaged and diseased root systems. Deficiencies of specific nutrients can be identified at our Master Gardener Plant Clinic and should be treated with applications of the lacking nutrient in accordance with UF/IFAS recommendations until the deficiencies are corrected.

Step-by-step Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ training (see our event listings for dates and times) was developed to help homeowners design and maintain a landscape that uses less water, fertilizer and pesticides.

More information about fertilization: