Fertilizers are added to soil in order to promote plant growth. Fertilizers provide plants, in varying proportions, three major plant nutrients: phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. They can be created either from natural organic material such as manure or compost or can be produced industrially.
The excessive or incorrect use of fertilizer has been found to lead to algal blooms. When it rains, fertilizers are carried as run-off into our waterways. Improper fertilizer use not only impacts our waterways, it can lead to long term degradation of the soil.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are primary nutrients in many fertilizers. When it rains, stormwater collects potential pollutants, including sediments, nutrients (from lawn fertilizers), bacteria (from animal waste), pesticides, metals (from rooftops and roadways), and petroleum by-products (from leaking vehicles). The excess of these nutrients can be detrimental to our waterways. Increased nutrients are one of the main pollutants that are degrading the water quality and health of Biscayne Bay.
To help minimize these impacts, City of Miami Beach departments are required to apply Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles and best management practices for fertilizer application on public properties. Additionally, all city landscaping contractors are required to follow industry practices and standards found in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s “Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries”.
- Only use the correct fertilizer mix for your yard and only when necessary. Follow following guide courtesy of the Miami Water Keeper: Fertilizer Do’s and Don’ts.
- Apply fertilizer as close using the methods and rates. We recommend using a 50% slow release fertilizer.
- Do not apply fertilizer during the raining season (June – November) or before a rain event.
- Avoid using fertilizers near storm drains or waterways.
- Do not overwater lawns and garden. Use specialized hoses or other watering tools that can reduce overwatering to reduce run-off.
- Use natural fertilizers like compost. Learn about how you can compost in Miami Beach: Composting 101
- Properly store any unused fertilizers and properly dispose of empty containers or old fertilizer during the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off events.
The City of Miami Beach adopted an ordinance that restricts fertilizer use. As a homeowner, property manager or landscaping professional, you can help protect our natural habitats by following the guidelines and restrictions on the ordinance. The ordinance takes into account best management practices and establishes critical restrictions to minimize negative and cumulative environmental effects associated with the misuse of fertilizers.
The ordinance regulates and promotes the following best management guidelines and required restrictions:
- Prohibits fertilizer application from June 1 through November 1 (accounting for rainy season and king tides).
- Prohibits fertilizer application in fertilizer-free zones of 20 feet adjacent to waterways and storm drains.
- Recommends low maintenance zones of 10 feet adjacent to waterways and storm drains.
- Establishes proper fertilizer application rates and methods outside of the prohibited application period.
- Requires that grass clippings and other vegetative matter be kept away from storm drains and waterways.
- Establishes minimum Florida-Friendly Landscaping and Low-Impact Design requirements for new golf courses and parks.
- Requires proper training of commercial and institutional fertilizer applicators.
- Establishes the Miami Beach Biscayne Bay Protection Fund dedicated to water conservation, nonpoint pollution prevention activities, water quality improvements and marine and coastal ecosystems enhancements.
- Establishes enforcement and penalties.
View or download the full ordinance below:
The City of Miami Beach is proud to partner with the Marine Resources Council and several municipalities throughout the state of Florida that have taken steps to reduce the use and impacts of fertilizers in our state.
Be Floridian Now provides educational resources to our sunny communities and highlight how fertilizers can enter our precious resources when they wash off our lawns and into our rivers, lagoons, and ocean. The excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the water feeds algae blooms that use up oxygen, kill fish and turn the water green.
Learn more about their amazing efforts and how you can help!