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Be Floridian this spring: Slow's the way to go with lawn fertilizer | Environment

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Be Floridian this spring: Slow's the way to go with lawn fertilizer
Environment, News
Be Floridian this spring: Slow's the way to go with lawn fertilizer

Pinellas County, Florida -- If you're planning to fertilize your lawn or flower beds this spring, take it slow - as in slow-release nitrogen. Under Pinellas County's fertilizer ordinance, only fertilizers containing a minimum of 50 percent slow-release nitrogen can be used from October to May.

Slow-release products (also called controlled release or timed release) feed your lawn or plants gradually, nourishing them for a longer period of time. They also help keep the environment healthy, since they are more likely to be absorbed by the plants and less likely to run off yards when it rains and pollute our bays, lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.

Not sure how to calculate the slow-release percentage? Don't worry. Your favorite garden center already has done that, since all landscape fertilizers they sell must meet the 50 percent slow-release requirement. Look for products with no phosphorus, too - our soils contain abundant amounts of phosphorous, so no need to apply more.

Even with slow-release products, you still need to be careful not to apply too much fertilizer. Knowing how big your yard is will make sure plants get the nutrition they need, without wasting money or polluting the waters.

Calculate the right amount of fertilizer for your yard at http://www.pinellascounty.org/environment/watershed/fertilizer-calulator.htm

The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign also remind all True Floridians to follow the following eco-friendly landscape practices:

  • Avoid weed and feed products, and be sure to sweep up any fertilizer spills from hard surfaces to prevent them from running off into our waters.
  • Water wisely. Spring is typically a dry time in central Florida, so remember to adjust your irrigation schedule based on current rainfall totals. Most landscape plants require 1/2"-3/4" of water each week. If you have an automatic irrigation system, make sure you have a working rain sensor, or use a rain gauge to adjust your watering practices.
  • Add two to three inches of mulch to hold in soil moisture during dry spring months. This will also help suppress weed growth. Choose eco-friendly mulches like pine straw, pine bark, or eucalyptus chips. Don't bag leaves that fall from your oak trees; use them as mulch instead.
  • Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after blooming. Prune after the last flowers fade but before new buds set in mid to late summer.
  • Always remember to sweep grass clippings, leaves, and other landscape debris off of hard surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, and roads to prevent them from making their way to storm drains and then on to the waterways.
  • Spring is a perfect time to embark on a Florida-friendly yard makeover. Try removing a section of high-maintenance grass and replace it with a mulched bed of drought-tolerant, easy-care flowers, shrubs or groundcovers. Learn more and see examples of what you can do at www.floridayards.org.

Remember: Being Floridian is all about "Protecting Our Fun" - boating, fishing, swimming and all the other water activities that make living here so great! To learn more, visit www.befloridian.org.

Release courtesy Pinellas County Government.

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