Summer Fertilizer Ban Ends in Pinellas County
The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind Pinellas County residents that the countywide summer ban on the use of nitrogen fertilizers ends on September 30. Beginning October 1, homeowners and business owners may once again apply fertilizer containing nitrogen to their lawn and landscape plants.
Garden centers in Pinellas County offer a variety of fertilizers that comply with the county’s fertilizer ordinance. Products on the store shelves from October through May must contain at least 50% of the nitrogen in a slow-release (or timed release) form.
These products release nitrogen gradually, nourishing lawns and plants for a longer period of time. They also help keep our environment healthy, since they are more likely to be absorbed by the plants and less likely to run off into waterways when it rains. Too much nitrogen is the biggest source of pollution in our lakes, ponds, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
If you choose to fertilize, October is a good month to do it. Gardening experts do not recommend use of fertilizers during the coldest winter months because grass and plants are not actively growing and cannot utilize the nutrients.
Here are a few additional tips to keep both your landscape and our waterways healthy through the Fall and Winter:
•Fertilize only when you are looking for a particular plant response such as growth, more blooms or to correct a nutritional deficiency. If your plants and grass look healthy, hold off on the fertilizer.
•Make sure your cold-sensitive plants have been planted in the warmest sites on your property – usually south-facing areas protected by walls, fences or evergreen hedges. Better yet, choose plants that will easily tolerate winter temperatures. We’ve all learned hard lessons in recent years about the expense of constantly replacing plants killed by winter freezes! “Right plant, right place” also means taking into account temperature extremes.
•Reduce irrigation frequency in the fall and winter as plant growth slows. Your lawn only needs watering about once a week in the fall, and once every 10-14 days in the winter. If it rains, don’t water!
•Provide tree shade or cover to guard against “radiation” freezes that occur on cold, clear, windless nights when heat “radiates” into the air from plants. Providing a tree canopy helps plants hold the heat they generate and prevent it from escaping into the night sky.
•Add 2-3 inches of mulch to hold in both heat and moisture during dry winter months, and moderate soil temperatures. Choose eco-friendly mulches like pine straw, pine bark or eucalyptus chips. Don’t bag those leaves that fall in the autumn; use them as mulch instead!
•Avoid pruning in early fall; that extra growth will help protect your plants on chilly nights.