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Blackout Dates for Lawn Fertilizer Applications Begin November 16

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds citizens that fertilizer blackout dates authorized by Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law begin November 16 and run through February 28. The law prohibits citizens from fertilizing their lawns with products containing phosphorus and nitrogen during the blackout dates. Citizens and lawn care professionals may resume lawn fertilizer applications containing nitrogen and phosphorus on March 1, as long as the ground is not frozen or heavy rain is not predicted.

Certified lawn care professionals may apply reduced rates of nitrogen only to lawns until December 1.  Applications must be made using specially formulated products that reduce the risk of nutrient runoff into streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.  Because they are not considered a threat to water quality, potassium and lime may still be applied during the blackout dates.

“As an added precaution, the department would like to remind citizens never to use fertilizer products to melt ice and snow on steps, sidewalks or driveways,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder.  “Applying fertilizer to hard or frozen ground provides a direct pathway for nutrient runoff into the storm drains that feed the Bay. Excess nutrients promote the growth of algae which can devastate aquatic systems. Everyone needs to do their part to protect the health of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law requires homeowners and lawn care professionals to follow University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations and use best management practices when fertilizing lawns. In addition, the law requires lawn care professionals to be licensed and certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture to apply fertilizer to the properties they manage. The department maintains a list of certified lawn care professionals along with additional information on Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law on its website

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Megan Guilfoyle
Public Information Officer
Telephone: 410-841-5889