NAPLES — If you live in the city of Naples, homeowners and landscape maintenance personnel have until May 31 to make your final landscape fertilizer applications — specifically nitrogen and phosphorous — for the next four months, whether it be fertilizing a lawn, trees, shrubs, palms or annuals. The Naples Fertilizer Ordinance Chapter 52 article VII was passed on March 5, 2008, and mandates, along with other requirements, a no-fertilizer “blackout” period from June 1 through Sept. 30.
. Collier County, outside the City of Naples, has not passed a fertilizer ordinance. Marco Island has passed a best management practices (BMP) training requirement. County residents should follow fertilizer guidelines as established by the Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices (BMP) of Water Resources by the Green Industries (61 pages). See: http://tiny.cc/iwvvp
Or call our office for more information. The ordinance was passed as an effort to oversee one of the many variables which could possibly contribute to water pollution. Agronomist Laurie Trenholm (UF/IFAS) has completed a summary of three years of turf fertilizer and irrigation trials at three UF research facilities using urea (a quick-release nitrogen source) . She concludes that:
“ ….percent of applied nitrogen (N) leached ranged from 0.2 to 4.4%, with higher percentages at the low nitrogen rates, which is typical of published reports. Maintaining a dense, healthy turf is an important factor in reducing nitrate-N leaching and it is important that proper turf management reflect this.”
Applications of nutrients such as iron chelates or iron sulfate (not oxide forms, which are ineffective), micronutrients or potassium may be applied during the “blackout” period. But no nitrogen nor phosphorous is allowed, unless it is a new planting, which gets a 60-day exemption. Vegetable gardens are exempt as well.
The Naples ordinance guidelines regulating landscape fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorous were developed with the insight of Mike Bauer, City of Naples Natural Resource Director.
■ Fertilizers containing N or P cannot be applied during the rainy season (June 1 through Sept. 30).
■ The N content of landscape fertilizer must be at least 50% slow release nitrogen source.
■ Fertilizer shall not contain more than 2 percent P.
■ Fertilizer application rates cannot exceed 1 pound N per 1000 square feet.
■ Only four applications are allowed per year.
■ Shall not be applied within 10 feet of any water-body; deflector shields are required when making application near water or impervious surfaces.
■ Retail fertilizer businesses will post a notice to inform their customers of the new application limitations and the 2 percent phosphorous and 50 percent minimum slow-release nitrogen requirements and provide a city-supplied brochure on groundwater protection.
Landscape maintenance companies and private enterprises (referred to as “institutional applicators”) need to follow these guidelines.
■ Lawn and landscape maintenance shall be performed only by businesses with at least one supervisor and a minimum of 10 percent of their field staff certified by the city as lawn and landscape professionals (known as LS-BMP training).
■ At least one BMP licensed professional shall be present where maintenance is taking place. There is a renewal fee and a 3 hour (CEUs) refresher course required every year.
■ There are BMP certification decals which are to be clearly displayed on vehicles of the companies which have had graduates in this certification.
Since the LS BMP training began, in March 2006, the city has registered personnel from 175 companies, as well as Naples landscape employees, who have passed the six-hour LS BMP class for a total of 461 GI-BMP certified individuals. About 500 other landscapers who don’t work in the city have taken the training as well. Of these, 87 percent said they would recommend this class to other landscapers.
The class is taught by Rookery Bay and University of Florida Extension faculty and Collier Soil and Water Conservation specialists and a few industry trainers who have been recently certified to teach.
The question remains as to how well the turf or groundcovers do inside the ten foot buffer zone along retention ponds. If the groundcover thins and the root system fades the retention pond bank may be at risk of failing; this is another good reason to have shoreline plantings (littoral shelf plant species). I plan to do a survey in some of the communities to evaluate this situation. Please contact me if you are interested in participating.
The next LS BMP class will be June 3 at Rookery Bay. See the Renee Wilson contact information below to sign up.
For more information, contact:
Renee Wilson, Project Greenscape/Rookery Bay NERR
239-417-6310 ext. 231, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the Naples ordinance:
Monique Krist, City of Naples Natural Resources
Doug Caldwell, Ph.D., is the commercial landscape horticulture extension educator and landscape entomologist with the University of Florida Collier County Extension Service. E-mail email@example.com ;phone, 353-4244 x203. For updates on Southwest Florida Horticulture visit: collier.ifas.ufl.edu.