Friday, May 20, 2011

Maryland Enacts Home Fertilizer Restrictions

Lawn fertilizer limits become law
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law today legislation that limits both the content and the application of fertilizer for urban and suburban lawns, a measure supporters say should help rescue the Chesapeake Bay from the nutrient pollution fouling its water. Touted by proponents as the most comprehensive regulation of lawn care in the Bay region, if not the nation, the law bars phosphorus in any fertilizer except those meant to boost growth of new or repaired lawns. It also limits nitrogen content.

The measure further restricts when and where homeowners and lawn-care outfits can apply fertilizer - specifying, for instance, that none is to be sprayed or spread within 10 to 15 feet of water, depending on how it's applied. The law bars any local fertilizer bans or regulations, and would appear to invalidate the restrictions in force since 2009 in Annapolis, the only municipality or county to enact any. But proponents say the application limits in the statewide law essentially mirror the Annapolis ones, except for that city's requirement that merchants selling fertilizer post a sign urging customers not to overapply it.

Under the state law, lawns are not to be fertilized before March 1 or after Nov. 15, though lawn-care outfits get a couple more weeks in the fall than do-it-yourselfers. The paid applicators can keep working to Dec. 1, as long as they're using spraying liquid "fast-release" plant food. (CORRECTION: Mark Schlossberg of the Maryland Association of Green Industries says it comes in granular and liquid form.)

Lawn-care professionals also get latitude to continue applying "natural organic" or "organic" fertilizer containing phosphorus, though beginning in 2013 the amount of that plant nutrient would also be limited and couldn't be applied at all to lawns where tests show the soil already has plenty of phosphorus...
 I'm tired of cutting the lawn already this year.  Time to get rid of some more of it.

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