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Fertilizer use prohibited in Manatee, Sarasota beginning Monday through Sept. 30

MANATEE -- If you want to fertilize your lawn before the summer blackout, time is running out.

Manatee County's fertilizer ordinance calls for a blackout starting Monday until Sept. 30. During this four-month period, it is prohibited to apply any fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorus to lawns and landscaping.

The ordinance is aimed at improving water quality, according to a news release from the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Manatee County Extension Service. Fertilizer is also prohibited any time the National Weather Service forecasts heavy rains within 24 hours.

"We all want clean water," Michelle Atkinson, UF/IFAS Manatee County Extension Service environmental horticulture agent, said in the release. "An important way to protect water quality is to make sure nothing but pure water flows into storm drains. Our storm drains are a direct conduit to our creeks, lakes and marine waters and aren't treated in any way. All hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks and streets drain to storm drains so it is very important to keep these areas clean."

Sarasota County also prohibits fertilizers using nitrogen and phosphorus between June 1 and Sept. 30. Slow-release fertilizer is required the rest of the year.

When allowed to fertilize, no more than 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year can be applied and granular fertilizers must be at least 50 percent slow-release nitrogen, according to the release.

Other rules to help protect the environment and public health include using a deflector shield when applying fertilizer, not applying fertilizer within 10 feet of a wetland or water body and not applying nitrogen to any newly installed plants for the first 30 days.

Information: Call the Manatee County UF/IFAS Extension Office at 941-722-4524.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.