Sunday, January 16, 2022

To Fertilize or NOT to Fertilize

Letter to the Editor

As a Marco resident and having a considerable lawn to maintain, I’ve often wondered about the best time to fertilize my turf. After attending a Board of County Commissioners’ workshop on a “Countrywide Fertilizer Ordinance”, I was a little surprised that there were experts proposing that it’s best to fertilize during the rainy season as well as experts advocating the opposite – a rainy season ban. Here’s their rationale for fertilizing during the rainy season. Fertilizing during rainy season provides important growth nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and Potassium compounds) and along with the increased temperatures and sunshine, the root system expands, becomes thicker and will therefore filter and absorb much of the environmental bad actors…like nitrogen and phosphorous and potassium that are found in fertilizer. At first blush fertilizing sounds good, but is it?

Other experts think not. Here’s why. Fertilizing during the rainy season risks fertilizer being flooded into our canals, bays and rivers during heavy rains. The chemicals in fertilizer pollute our waterways. In essence the fertilizer advocates want us to add fertilizer to our turf so its root system can better remove these same chemicals. If your priority is healthy waterways, this makes no sense.

Adding fertilizer makes our turf look dark green and promotes fast growth. I find it interesting that the people advocating for increased use of fertilizer are also advocates associated with the green industry having connections to lawn maintenance services, turf grass farming and fertilizer industries.  

For me, protecting Marco’s waterways trumps dark green fast growing lawns. Let’s consider a year round ban on fertilizing our lawns.

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