An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Skip The Fertilizer to Protect Our Fun!

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The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind residents of Manatee, Sarasota and Pinellas counties and the city of Tampa that they can't apply nitrogen or phosphorous to lawn and landscape plants from June 1-September 30. But that doesn't mean your grass will turn brown, shrivel up and die!

Garden centers throughout these communities offer a variety of "summer-safe" yard products that will help keep your landscape green and growing throughout our long, hot summer. Look for fertilizers with "0" as the first two numbers on the label (as in 0-0-6). These do not contain either nitrogen or phosphorous. More than 70% of these summer-safe products are made right here in Florida, so you are helping local businesses and our economy when you purchase them.

Summer rains don't water fertilizer in, they wash it away -- right into our ponds, rivers, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Too much fertilizer can cause algae blooms and fish kills, spoiling the beautiful waterways that are our major source of recreation. Follow these Florida-friendly lawn care practices to "protect our fun" this summer:

  • Pump some iron. An application of iron, readily available at most garden centers, will keep your lawn green during the summer without excessive growth. Who wants to mow every week anyway?
  • Micro-size It! Apply micronutrients such as zinc and manganese to keep your grass healthy.
  • Get Better Dirt. Mix in composted cow or chicken manure, or your own home compost, to enrich your soil. It's like giving vitamins to your yard.
  • Pick better plants. Buy plants adapted to Florida's hot, humid climate and plant them in the right place according to their sun and water needs. They'll need less water, fertilizer and chemicals year-round, and you'll have more time for bicycling, boating, grilling or just relaxing by the pool sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it.Visit or for ideas.
  • Leave Clippings on the Lawn! Don't feed algae blooms by blowing grass clippings into the street, or down the storm drain where they will wash into our waterways. Instead, leave them on your lawn. They are free fertilizer and can supply at least 25% of the nitrogen your grass needs throughout the year.
Less Lawn = More Fun!

Tired of all that mowing, watering and warring with chinch bugs and dollarweed? "Cut" the amount of grass in your yard, by a little or a lot.

Replace water-needy turfgrass with a drought-tolerant groundcover like Asiatic jasmine or perennial peanut. Make a butterfly garden and watch winged jewels visit your flowers. Install a meandering pathway with stepping stones, gravel, shell or pavers. Create your own special seating area under a shady oak.

See how homeowners throughout the region have reduced water, fertilizer and pestcides in our Florida Yard photo gallery!