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MDARD Advises Homeowners Businesses to Use Phosphorus Free Fertilizer to Protect Michigans Waterways
May 22, 2023
LANSING – As Michiganders head outside to begin their summer lawncare routine, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding homeowners and businesses to use phosphorus free fertilizer.
Michigan’s Fertilizer Law restricts the use of phosphorus fertilizers on residential and commercial lawns, including athletic fields cemeteries, parks, and golf courses statewide. Both homeowners and commercial applicators must follow the phosphorus application restrictions.
“When excess phosphorus is applied on land, it may run into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. “Phosphorus run-off can lead to increased algae and aquatic plant growth which could have negative effects on water quality, fisheries, and recreation.”
In general, most established lawns and plants do not require additional phosphorus for healthy growth. When purchasing lawncare products, consumers should review the product’s label and ensure the product is phosphorus free.
“Although phosphorus can be used to help establish new lawns and plants, consumers must always carefully follow label directions to avoid run-off,” added Philip. “By limiting unnecessary phosphorus applications, we can help maintain and protect our vast water resources.”
Other steps you can take to protect water quality include:
- Follow Michigan’s phosphorus-free requirements.
- Do not leave fertilizer material on an impervious surface (driveways, sidewalks, patios, etc.) following an application. Sweep the fertilizer back onto the lawn or turf to be utilized rather than potentially running off into a storm drain.
- Keep leaves and lawn clippings out of your gutters, streets, and ditches.
- Never wash or blow soil or grass clippings into the street.
- Pick up pet waste promptly. Pet waste can contain harmful bacteria as well as nutrients that cause excess algae and weed growth in lakes and rivers.
- Help control soil erosion. When left bare, soil is easily washed away with rain, carrying phosphorus with it. Soil erosion can be prevented by keeping soil covered with vegetation or mulch.
Learn more about MDARD’s Pesticide and Pest Management Division at www.Michigan.gov/mdard/plant-pest.
Program contact: Tim Lyons, 517-719-1696
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724