Q: Why is it important to fertilize urban landscapes during the summer?
A: Urban landscapes are most efficient at taking up nutrients during the peak summertime growing season. Because they are able to take up nutrients so well during this time, urban landscapes are able to grow healthy and strong, with dense root structures that prevent leaching and runoff of all types of non-point source pollution. If urban landscapes do not get enough nutrients during the summer, they are not able to grow as healthy and strong as needed, and they aren’t able to do their jobs at erosion control and runoff prevention.
Q: Why is a fertilizer summertime blackout period a bad idea?
A: The concept behind banning the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorous during the summer is based on the false assumption that those nutrients will leach or run off urban landscapes when it rains. Science has repeatedly shown that this is NOT the case. In fact, there has been a great deal of scientific, peer-reviewed research conducted on urban landscapes and fertilization and the consensus is clear – fertilizer properly applied to healthy turfgrass results in insignificant leaching or runoff, even under extreme conditions of rain. The negative consequences of a fertilizer summertime blackout period is that denying turf needed nutrients during the peak summertime growing season may lead to weakened turf health and less efficient filtration of potential pollutants, and may seriously undermine the protection of water quality across the state.
Q: Should I use a slow-release fertilizer?
A: Usually, but it depends. Generally, it is a good idea to use a slow-release fertilizer for general use on turf. But for damaged turf or for many landscape plants, a slow release fertilizer may not be the best option. More importantly, it may be unwise and environmentally unsound to use slow release fertilizers during the late fall, as the fertilizer may release nitrogen during times when turf is dormant and not able to take up nutrients, which promotes leaching and runoff. While it is often beneficially to use slow release fertilizer products, one-size-fits-all restrictions requiring the use of 50% slow release fertilizers, at all times, carry serious unintended consequences that may hurt water quality.
Q: What is the FDEP Model Ordinance?
A: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Use of Fertilizer on Urban Landscapes (FDEP Model Ordinance) is a codification of recommendations and best practices to reduce sources of nutrients coming from urban landscapes to reduce the impact of nutrients on Florida’s surface and ground waters. Recommendations and restrictions contained in the FDEP Model Ordinance are endorsed by FDEP, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) and the University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) as offering the best protection of water quality resources. All county and municipal governments are encouraged to adopt and enforce the FDEP Model Ordinance as a mechanism for protecting local surface and groundwater quality.