ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds citizens that fertilizer blackout dates authorized by Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law will begin on Nov. 16 and run through Feb. 28.
Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits residents and lawn-care professionals from fertilizing lawns with products containing phosphorus and nitrogen between the specified blackout dates. An exception exists for lawn-care professionals, who may apply up to 0.5 pound of soluble or insoluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to lawns they manage until Dec. 1.
Potassium and lime may still be applied during the blackout dates, since they are not considered a threat to water quality. Citizens and lawn-care professionals may resume lawn-fertilizer applications containing nitrogen and phosphorus on March 1, as long as the ground is not frozen or heavy rain is not predicted. A soil test is required before phosphorus may be applied to established lawns.
The department reminds citizens that the law prohibits anyone from using fertilizer products to melt ice and snow on steps, sidewalks, or driveways. Applying fertilizer to hard or frozen ground provides a direct pathway for nutrient runoff into storm drains that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law requires homeowners and lawn-care professionals to follow University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations and use best management practices when fertilizing lawns. In addition, the law requires lawn-care professionals to be licensed and certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture to apply fertilizer to the properties they manage.
The department maintains a list of certified lawn-care professionals, along with additional information on Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law, at mda.maryland.gov/fertilizer.