Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring = Return of Lawn Care. Be prepared, know the new Fertilizer Laws!

The snow is finally melting and the signs of spring are here with trees budding and flowers sprouting.  The warmer weather also means that its time for me to do yard work again.

My lawn is far from perfect but we enjoy getting outside to try to improve or at least maintain it each year – raking out dead grass clippings and putting down more seed.  We’ll expand gardens and native ground covers a little bit more again this year and hopefully plant another tree.  I picked up a soil testing kit at the NJ’s Garden Show and plan to send it in to Rutgers University to learn how to better manage on our lawn soon.  We leave grass clippings on the yard, so we don’t usually need fertilizer.  But, sometimes small adjustments are useful to keep the grass healthy.  This year it is important to be aware that NJ has a new fertilizer law that is designed to reduce pollution impacts from our yards to our streams, lakes, and coastal waters.

NJ is the first state to limit both the nitrogen and phosphorus content of all lawn-care fertilizer products sold at retail and to regulate the use of these fertilizers by consumers and professionals.  Nutrients from fertilizer can end up in runoff and groundwater creating water quality problems.  So consider alternatives to fertilizing, and if you must fertilize, use products wisely to keep it on your lawn.  Click here for more lawn care tips. 

What you need to know about NJ’s Fertilizer Law:

Consumer lawn fertilizer sold or used in NJ must have at least 20 % of its nitrogen in “slow-release” form by 2013.

·  Know your lawn size (land area minus house, driveway, etc), as the amounts of both fast-release and total nitrogen applications are limited based on area.

Phosphorus is banned from lawn fertilizer with some exceptions.

Prohibits fertilizer application from Nov. 15th – Mar. 1st or any other time the ground is frozen
(professional fertilizer applicators who must be certified, may apply fertilizer until Dec. 1st ).

Prohibits fertilizer from being applied within 25 ft. of waterways, before heavy rains, or on impervious surfaces.  If fertilizer does end up on your driveway or the street, be sure to sweep it back onto the yard.

All lawn care providers applying fertilizers must be certified by 2012.  Rutgers is currently developing the certification program with input from government agencies, business, and non-profit groups, including COA.

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