BALTIMORE COUNTY— Summer may almost be over but there are plenty of opportunities to work outside during the Fall months as well. In fact, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Fall is the best time to fertilize most lawns based on soil test results.

That being said, it is important to read and follow all label instructions before applying fertilizer to lawns. The Maryland Department of Agriculture says fertilizer should be applied based on the size of your yard and your lawn’s nutritional requirements. Too much fertilizer can weaken your lawn and harm the Chesapeake Bay. Do not apply fertilizer near streams and waterways if heavy rain is predicted.

Maryland’s lawn fertilizer law helps protect the Chesapeake Bay from excess nutrients entering its waters from a variety of urban sources, including golf courses, parks, recreation areas, businesses and hundreds of thousands of lawns. Nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, are key ingredients in lawn fertilizer. When it rains, lawn fertilizer can wash into nearby storm drains and streams that empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

Once in our waterways, fertilizer contributes to the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching bay grasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten underwater life.

Lawn fertilizer now accounts for approximately 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland. While certain restrictions on fertilizer use have been in place for farmers since 2001, everyone needs to do their part to protect and restore the Bay.

Maryland’s lawn fertilizer law took effect October 1, 2013. Some key take aways from the law are, to not exceed 0.9 pound total nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. which can include no more than 0.7 pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. when applying fertilizer, fertilizer may not be used to de-ice walkways and driveways, it is against the law to apply fertilizer to sidewalks or other impervious surfaces.

Fertilizer that lands on these surfaces must be swept back onto the grass or cleaned up, no fertilizer applications within 10 to 15 feet of waterways, do not fertilize lawns if heavy rain is predicted or the ground is frozen, and do not apply lawn fertilizer between November 15 and March 1.

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