What is the Venice Fertilizer Ban & what does it mean for you?
Resolution 2018-23 SECTION 2. “The City Council hereby encourages all persons, businesses, associations, clubs, and/or organizations discontinue, year-round, the application of any fertilizer, including pesticide/fertilizer mixtures, containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus to turf, sod, lawns, trees, shrubs, ground cover, or any other landscape plant.”
- Even though this resolution has been called a “year-long fertilizer ban” it is, legally, more of a suggestion. Individual counties and/or cities cannot enforce regulations that differ from the state-wide fertilizer regulations already in place.
- If you’re a customer of ours, your treatments will remain the same as always. We will apply fertilizers, at the proper rates to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and green. After all, scientific research has shown healthy lawns prevent nutrient leaching.
Does Science Support a Venice Fertilizer Ban?
Simply put – NO.
But you don’t need to take my word for it. Extensive studies, like this one from the University of Florida, have been made over the years to determine if urban fertilizer use (including residential lawn fertilization) contributes to the nitrogen and phosphorous run-off that exacerbates red tide. The research concludes that healthy lawns are nutrient absorbers rather than run-off sources. This article by doctors at the University of Florida says even the summer-time fertilizer ban currently in place is not supported by science. Since the extensive and thorough study is not an easy read, I’ll point out a few key points here.
- Healthy grass absorbs the majority of Nitrogen when it is applied at recommended rates.
• Healthy grass has an expansive root system that fills the soil & absorbs additional nutrients.
• Urban lawns often absorb more nutrients than are applied causing them to be “nutrient sinks rather than sources.”
- Phosphorous runoff has more to do with soil quality than plant growth.
• Phosphorous runoff was actually greater in un-fertilized plots.
• Properly maintained lawns, include proper fertilization, and decrease phosphorous runoff.
- Leaching and runoff will increase when fertilizer is applied above the recommended rates.
• Even when applied above the recommended rates, fertilizer leaching was minimal in healthy St. Augustine grass.
• An actively growing root system creates maximum nutrient absorption.
From another University of Florida study specifically regarding St. Augustine grass:
- “There was little association between [nitrogen rate] and increased [nitrate] leaching in St. Augustine grass in any year.”
• “Maintenance of a healthy turfgrass cover is an important strategy for reducing potential nutrient movement from fertilizer application.”
What if you want to follow the Venice Fertilizer Ban.
We don’t recommend it – and that’s not just because we’re in the business. Without proper food, your beautiful lawn will decline, thin and soon fill with weeds and crabgrass; your trees and shrubs will bloom less and grow thinner. When your lawn and plants look sickly from lack of food, you may also decline the insect control measures. After all, why pay to treat a thin, yellowing lawn? Weakened grass will then invite chinch bugs causing even more devastation.
Plus – keeping your grass healthy and its root system strong will cause maximum nutrient absorption.
With this information in mind consider that Lawn Care Extraordinaire is dedicated to making our home state beautiful. After all, we are a company founded and functioning in Venice for forty years! Our treatment schedule does not include phosphorus or nitrogen during summer months per state regulations. Instead, we use supplemental fertilizers during that time and fertilize in the remaining 8 months of the year. Secondly, keeping your lawn healthy reduces the run-off because, as the USF study shows, a healthy lawn actually absorbs all applied nutrients plus some. We should stick together and fight the red-tide with beautiful lawns!
Please keep in mind, the City cannot enforce a year-round ban as it opposes State regulations. The resolution passed on September 11, 2018 is merely a suggestion, You can count on us to keep your lawn and our city beautiful.
Joel Traub, President
Lawn Care Extraordinaire
Serving Southwest Florida Since 1979