How to ensure your lawn follows state fertilizer guidelines

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 13:33:12-04

Spring is nearing and if you are thinking of planting flowers, you may want to consider the Maryland Fertilizer Law.

The law states that homeowners must verify their home uses fertilizer listed on the Department of Agriculture's website under Certified Lawn Care Professionals.

Fertilizer rich in nitrogen and phosphorus are very detrimental to local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Nutrients in the fertilizers reach the Bay in the form of runoff.

These nutrients often lead to high algae blooms in bodies of water, which block sunlight and threaten underwater life.

"Caring for a lawn is no different than caring for a crop in the field," said Department Secretary Joe Bartenfelder.

If you are planning to fertilize, follow these six tips to ensure your home follows Maryland guidelines.

  • Follow the directions on the fertilizer bag.
  • Learn about soil testing. Click here for seasonal and yearly fertilizer recommendations.
  • Do not apply phosphorus to lawns unless a soil test indicates that it is needed. Phosphorus is indicated by the middle number on a fertilizer bag.
  • Clean up fertilizer that lands on sidewalks or other impervious surfaces.
  • Keep fertilizer applications 10 to 15 feet from waterways.
  • Do not apply fertilizer if heavy rain is predicted.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture also recommends do-it-yourself fertilizer options, such as leaving grass clippings to decompose naturally, sharpening lawnmower blades or replacing them to protect grass health and skipping out on the spring fertilizer altogether.  

For a full list of approved fertilizers visit