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Lawn and Yard Fertilizing Lawn Care Services MN

We keep hearing stories about fertilizers damaging the environment. That we need to cut back on their use and so on. So what’s the deal and what is the truth about our use of fertilizers in lawn care?

Yes, those rumors are true. Lawn fertilizers can be damaging to the environment. The nutrient in fertilizers responsible is Phosphorous, AKA Phosphate. When phosphate enters into river systems, it promotes the massive algal blooms often seen on TV News reports.

Whatever washes off your yard, driveway, sidewalk and street and into a storm sewer will go directly to our lakes and rivers.  The choices you make when caring for your lawn directly affect water quality.

As of January 1, 2005, fertilizers containing phosphorus could no longer be used on lawns in Minnesota.

The law requires use of phosphorus-free fertilizer on established lawns unless soil testing shows a need for phosphorus.  Most garden centers and hardware stores carry phosphorus-free lawn fertilizers.

Report on Law’s Effectiveness

The Minnesota Phosphorus Lawn Fertilizer Law directed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to report in 2007 on the effectiveness of phosphorus lawn fertilizer restrictions. That report, Effectiveness of the Minnesota Phosphorus Lawn Fertilizer Law, was completed March 15, 2007. Both the full 41-page report and a three page summary are available.

Minnesota Phosphorus Lawn Fertilizer Law Summary

Minnesota’s Phosphorus Lawn Fertilizer Law, was enacted to reduce over-enrichment of rivers, lakes, and wetlands with the nutrient phosphorus. Excessive phosphorus in surface water leads to an overabundance of algae and other aquatic plants.

The law was enacted over a period of years starting in 2002. Restriction on phosphorus fertilizer use on lawns and turf started in 2004 in the seven county Twin Cities metro area and in Minnesota’s other 80 counties in 2005. As of January 2007, Minnesota is the only state in the nation which regulates phosphorus fertilizer use on lawns and turf.

Full text of the law is found in Minnesota’s Fertilizer, Soil Amendment, and Plant Amendment Law, Chapter 18C of the Minnesota State Statutes. References to specific sections of the law are given below.

Use of Phosphorus Fertilizer on Lawns and Turf is Restricted (Minnesota Statutes 18C.60)
Fertilizers containing phosphorus cannot be used on lawns and turf in Minnesota unless one of the following situations exists:

  • A soil test or plant tissue test shows a need for phosphorus.
  • A new lawn is being established by seeding or laying sod.
  • Phosphorus fertilizer is being applied on a golf course by trained staff.
  • Phosphorus fertilizer is being applied on farms growing sod for sale.

When these situations do not exist, state law requires phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer is to be used. The nutrient value of a fertilizer is indicated by a series of three numbers printed on its container. The numbers represent percent nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, in that order. A fertilizer marked with 22-0-15, for example, is phosphorus-free as the middle number is zero. Zero is defined to be less than 0.67% phosphate.

Fertilizer 22-0-15

Look for the middle number: The three numbers on a fertilizer container lists its percent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content, in that order. A zero in the middle means a phosphorus-free fertilizer.

When used, phosphorus lawn fertilizer needs to be applied at rates recommended by the University of Minnesota and approved by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. These rates are based on soil test results and can be found in the University of Minnesota Extension publication Fertilizing Lawns (FO-03338).

Fertilizer on Paved Surfaces Needs to be Cleaned Up (Minnesota Statues 18C.61)
Fertilizer spilled or spread on paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, and streets needs to be cleaned up immediately to prevent it from washing away into rivers, lakes and wetlands. This applies to all fertilizers, whether or not they contain phosphorus or not.

Enforcement (Minnesota Statues 18C.62)
Restrictions and prohibitions in this law are enforced by local units of government under their existing authority. Violations are treated as petty misdemeanors.

Preemption of Local Law (Minnesota Statues 18C.110)
Local units of government may not adopt or enforce ordinances regulating the sale, handling, use or disposal of phosphorus lawn fertilizers. Exceptions to this are local ordinances regulating the sale (not use) of phosphorus lawn fertilizer which were in effect on August 1, 2002.

Preemption of local law

Local ordinances that restrict the SALE (not use) of phosphorus lawn fertilizer that were in effect by August 1, 2002 will remain in effect.

  • Bloomington
  • Eagan
  • Eden Prairie
  • Lindstrom
  • Maplewood
  • Minneapolis
  • Plymouth
  • St. Paul
  • Savage
  • Shorewood

Local units of government may not prohibit or regulate the sale, handling or use of phosphorous fertilizers for agricultural use (growing of crops including sod farms).

Consumer Information (Minnesota Statues 18C.60)
Consumer information needs to be provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in consultation with the University of Minnesota, fertilizer industry, lakes groups, and others.

Definition of 0% Phosphate
Minnesota Rule 1510.0420 sets the “investigational allowance” for the analysis of phosphorus fertilizers at 0.67% phosphate (analysis of phosphorus fertilizer is given in terms of phosphate, P2O5). Minnesota Statutes 18C.211 requires nutrient analysis of specialty fertilizers (which includes lawn fertilizer) not to exceed or be below this amount. Therefore to be labeled 0% phosphate, a lawn fertilizer cannot contain more than 0.67% phosphate by weight.

Definition of “Local Unit of Government”
“Local unit of government” means a statutory or home rule charter city, town, county, soil and water conservation district, watershed district, another special purpose district, and local or regional board (Minnesota Statutes 18B.01, subd. 14a).

Professional Fertilizing Services MN

A lawn and garden fertilizer program is scientifically designed to nurture the plants you want to thrive, while controlling weed growth and creating an environment in which harmful diseases and insects do not want to live.

A fertilizer specialists will examine your lawn and gardens, assess the health of your plants, measure thatch depth, note any weeds, insects or diseases that might be present, and do a soil analysis.  Based on their findings, they will create a fertilization program to provide the nutrients necessary for your lawn and gardens to flourish.

Source: www.mda.state.mn.us/

MN Phosphorus Law

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture