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Rules prohibit fertilizer use in summer in parts of Southwest Florida

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Posted at 5:25 AM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 05:29:22-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — As Southwest Florida struggles to fight algae blooms and red tide this summer, one of the big problems is improper fertilization of lawns, which is helping algae grow and bloom in our canals.

Scientists say the fertilizer used to help your grass grow can seep into our groundwater and canals when it rains.

Each county and most cities have its own fertilizer rules.  Here’s a look at some local ordinances.


  • Fertilizers containing Nitrogen (N) and/or Phosphorus (P) may not be applied on turf and/or landscape plants from June 1 through September 30. 
  • No fertilizers should be deposited, intentionally or accidentally, on an impervious surface such as a driveway, sidewalk or street.
  • No fertilizers shall be applied on turf and/or landscape plants within ten (10) feet of a water body, seawall or wetland.
  • When using a rotary spreader, use of a deflector shield is required to deflect fertilizers away from water bodies, seawalls and wetlands. 

More info for Lee County


Adopted in 2008 the ordinance says Fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus CANNOT:

  • Be applied during the rainy season (July 1 through September 30)
  • Be applied within 25 feet of a body of water
  • Be applied to impervious (hard) surfaces, such as roads, driveways and sidewalks
  • Be dumped into a storm drain

More info for Sanibel

CAPE CORAL (adopted in 2010)

No fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus may be used within 10 feet of the top of a seawall or any water body, except by hand dispersion. 

No fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus may be applied to turf or landscape plants between June 1 and September 30, or if a Flood Watch or Warning, Tropical Storm Watch or Warning, or Hurricane Watch or Warning is in effect. 

More info for Cape Coral


(approved in 2008)
You cannot apply fertilizer that has any nitrogen or phosphorous in it between June 1st and September 30th.

More Charlotte County info


(approved in 2012)

  • No fertilizer containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus shall be applied during the rainy season, (June 1st through September 30th).
  • Fertilizer may not be applied to a single area more the six times a year
  • No fertilizer shall be applied within ten (10) feet, or three feet if a deflector shield is used, of any pond, stream, water course, lake, retention area, drain and drainage ditches, canal, any wetland, or top of seawalls

More info for Punta Gorda


(adopted in 2019)

  • No application during an identified storm “Watch” or “Warning” periods or when soils are saturated
  • No fertilizer within 10 ft of a water body or wetland (3 ft with deflector or drop spreader)
  • Do not leave fertilizer, grass clippings, or landscape trimmings on impervious surfaces (asphalt or concrete) or allow to enter stormwater drains or ditches, wetlands, or water
  • It is recommended that all landscape trimmings be removed within 10 feet of water or wetlands

More information for Collier County


(adopted 2019)

  • NO fertilizer application when soils are saturated, heavy rain is likely, or during a storm or flood watch/warning
  • Strongly encourage no Phosphorus
  • NO grass clippings and vegetative matter/debris shall be washed, swept, or blown into waterbodies
  • NO fertilizer within 10-feet of waterbody, drain, or top of the seawall

More information for Naples


(adopted in 2016)

  • Do not apply fertilizer during the rainy season (June 1 – September 30) or when a weather event is predicted that will include heavy rainfall.
  • Do not apply fertilizer to impervious surfaces (concrete, asphalt, pavers, etc.) or within 10 feet of a watercourse, lake, wetland or storm drain.  Always use a spreader deflector shield to prevent fertilization in those areas.
  • Do not apply phosphorus fertilizer unless a soil test has determined there is a deficiency of phosphorus.
  • Fertilizers must contain no less than 50% slow release nitrogen.
  • Fertilizer may only be applied four times per year and no more than four pounds of nitrogen may be applied per 1000 square feet per year.

More info for Marco Island

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