Fertilizer Guidance for Homeowners & Lawn Care Professionals

Save Your Money, Plants, and the Environment by Fertilizing Properly 

Fertilizers can be an important tool to maintain a beautiful, healthy landscape. Unfortunately, inappropriate use of fertilizers can lead to degradation of local water bodies. Too much fertilizer can also reduce the health of your plants, either through fertilizer burn or additional pests and diseases.  

Fertilizer Best Practices 

  • Only fertilize if necessary. Not all landscape plants need frequent fertilization. Information on fertilizer needs and soil test kits are available from the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Office. 
  • Use the right amount. Always follow the fertilizer label and/or UF/IFAS soil test recommendations. 
  • Apply at the right time. In North Florida, turf and warm-season perennials should be fertilized April-September. Fertilizer should not be applied during outlined prohibition periods. 

Fertilizer Prohibition Periods 

Timing your fertilizer application is important for the health of your plants and the environment. By County ordinance, residents should avoid fertilizing during these conditions: 

  • At least one day before heavy rain (over 1 inch of rain in 24 hours) 
  • During warning periods for significant weather events like hurricanes and tropical storms 
  • Before seeding or sodding a site and for the first 30 days after seeding or sodding 
  • During the winter months (defined as periods when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, usually November through February) 

It’s also important to maintain a 15-foot fertilizer-free zone around water bodies and wetlands. 

Fertilizer Rain Delay 

The Fertilizer Rain Delay campaign reminds homeowners and professional fertilizer applicators not to apply fertilizer for at least one day ahead of forecasted heavy rain (1 inch or more in 24 hours). 

Fertilizer Rain Delay Logo — blue stopwatch shape with raindrops and a referee calling a timeout

Hiring a Lawn Care Company or Landscaping Professional? 

Homeowners hiring landscape professionals to maintain their lawn and landscape should verify that the landscaper has obtained the Green Industries – Best Management Practice/Limited Urban Fertilizer Applicator certification. GI-BMP certified professionals have been trained to apply fertilizer in accordance with local ordinances and in the safest and most effective manner. 

Find a GI-BMP certified professional here: https://gibmp-prod.ifas.ufl.edu/certified 

Fertilizer Application Resources for Homeowners 

Fertilizer Application Resources for Lawn Care Professionals 

Green industry professionals play an important role in protecting our water quality and maintaining our landscapes. 

In Leon County and the City of Tallahassee, all industry professionals that apply fertilizer for hire must successfully complete a  UF/IFAS Extension Green-Industry Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) course and hold a Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS) Limited Urban Fertilizer (LUF) license. This includes all governmental and institutional employees who apply fertilizers as part of their job. 

Need More Information? 

For more information on fertilizer and lawn care, contact UF/IFAS Extension Leon County 

615 Paul Russel Rd. 

Tallahassee, FL 32301 

Phone: (850) 606-5200 

For more information about local fertilizer ordinances, contact the Leon County Department of Development Support and Environmental Management 

435 N. Macomb St. 

Tallahassee, FL 32301 

Phone: (850) 606-1300 

Leon Water Source Homepage