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Summer Fertilizer Ban Starts June 1


Maria Lamb 5/18/2022

Editor's Note:  According to the March Marco Island Police Department Report, three landscaping companies fertilizing without a permit received education and information regarding the permitting requirements.

Monday, June 1 is the beginning of the summertime fertilizer blackout. Per Marco’s Fertilizer Ordinance No. 16-02, during this period (June 1 – September 30), you cannot apply any fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus to your lawn.

This ban also coincides with Florida’s rainy season, when rain is more likely to wash fertilizer and other pollutants into our waterways where algae feeds on it. We’ve all read the devastating news these types of pollutants have done to manatee habitats killing both sea grass (staple manatee food source) and fueling harmful algal blooms (HABs) in waterways all over Florida. Such pollution comes in the forms of leaking septic systems, reused water, fertilizer runoff, vegetative debris and other sources.


leaf blower

Marco’s Fertilizer Ordinance says grass clippings and vegetative debris should be returned to the landscape area so they don’t find their way into water bodies.


Here is what you need to know about Marco’s Fertilizer Ordinance No. 16-02:

Any person/service who wants to do any kind of landscape maintenance, mowing, planting or pruning must register with the City of Marco Island.

Upon registration, the City of Marco Island will issue a windshield decal, which means that you are registered with the city and are allowed to work here. This decal is not a permit or license to apply fertilizer and it is free.

The license to apply fertilizer is issued by the State of Florida after a landscaper has taken the Green Industries Best Management Practice (GI-BMP) Course offered by Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Reserve. Upon successful completion, landscapers may receive the Limited Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification (LCFAC) from the state. The contractors must carry this license with them at all times.

If a landscape contractor does not have the state-issued fertilizer license, they are limited to landscape jobs such as mowing, edging and trimming small bushes. They can fertilize only if they successfully completed the State Green Industries Best Management Practice Course and if they were issued a Limited Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certificate from the state.


Marco Island has a summer ban on the application of fertilizer from June 1st through September 30th.


What Code Enforcement needs to know during the rainy season fertilizer ban:

Look for the green decal in the vehicle (indicating landscaper has registered with the city and is allowed to perform landscaping services in Marco).

Check their state-issued fertilizer license.

Check the fertilizer bag label. Fertilizer should contain no less than 50% slow-release nitrogen and zero for phosphorus.

Fertilizer should not be applied within ten feet of any water bodies and storm drains. 

Fertilizer or grass clippings, vegetative debris should be returned to the landscape area or swept immediately. If left on hard surfaces, they find their way into our water bodies causing possible algal blooms that dissolve oxygen and kill fish.

Though Marco Island prohibits the application of fertilizers, the State allows stores to sell the products. Retail businesses within Marco Island selling fertilizer are “requested” to post a notice in a conspicuous location near the fertilizer notifying customers of the fertilizer summer ban. 

Personally, I do not apply fertilizer to my lawn – and if I do, I use natural fertilizer to individual plants and my landscape is doing great! Most of us think of fertilizer as a product that's great for yards, gardens, and for our farmlands. Living in Marco Island surrounded by water – have you considered fertilizer's impact on the environment and our waterways?

According to the FWC website, fertilizer runoff fuels the growth of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and we can all reduce runoffs by minimizing fertilizer use and learn proper fertilization application.

What can we do to protect our waterways? Follow these steps:

  • Avoid using fertilizer during the wet season when rain washes it straight into our waterways.
  • Make sure your landscape service is properly licensed and is aware of the Ordinance.
  • Consider using Florida-Friendly plants which need little or no fertilizer and water.
  • If you have waterfront property, consider planting native plants in your 10-foot setbacks – they require no fertilizer, less mowing and less water.
  • Bag pet waste and dispose of it in the garbage. 
  • Educate yourself and others about the fertilizer summer ban