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Fertilizer bans begin June 1

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The summer heat might seem like a good time to bump up yard and lawn care efforts, but during the rainy season, unnecessary fertilizing can result in polluting waterways.

Lee and Charlotte Counties, along with Sanibel, are reminding the public that fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorus are banned for use on residential or commercial landscapes now through September 30, 2022.

This ordinance isn’t new. Charlotte County has had a summer fertilizer ban in place since 2008 to keep nutrients that cause harmful algal blooms and red tide from running off into Charlotte Harbor.

The Harbor is a sanctuary for mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, and is home to a myriad of marine life, like loggerhead sea turtles and West Indian manatees.

Brandon Moody, Charlotte County Water Quality Manager, says compounds like phosphorus and nitrogen that nourish plants on land also fuel algae underwater. And too much of a good thing can be detrimental.

“Too much algae is very problematic," said Moody.

"It can cause a reduction in oxygen in the water that can make it difficult for fish and other organisms that need oxygen to survive. It can block out sunlight which seagrasses and whatnot need to be able to grow and thrive. So, it’s important for us to do our part to maintain the balance, which is really what it’s all about in ecosystems like the Harbor. It’s about balance.”

Moody says that while landscape fertilization isn’t the only cause of pollution to Florida waterways, residential action, or in this particular case inaction, can help reduce harmful nutrient inputs and keep the water healthier.

Click HERE for Florida-friendly fertilizing and landscaping tips.

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