On January 5, 2011 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law the most restrictive content standards in the nation for Phosphorus and Nitrogen in lawn fertilizers. This law was designed to minimize or eliminate Phosphorus and minimize the amount of Nitrogen per application and amount used per year on lawns. This law will help protect New Jersey’s surface and ground waters from impairment. The law also requires specific fertilizer application practices.
Nitrogen and Phosphorus are nutrients that are important for healthy plant growth but in limited amounts. An overabundance of these nutrients, however, not only can harm lawns, but if washed into our waterways, stimulates excessive algae and weed growth. This in turn depletes oxygen from the water and reduces the sunlight need for aquatic life. This is known as eutrophication.
Phosphorous is recognized as an important nutrient to establish new grass seed and sod. Lawn fertilizers containing Phosphorus, the middle number on a fertilizer bag, are still allowed to be used when establishing new turf and vegetation including sod for the first time or repairing-overseeding established turf. An example of this type of fertilizer is Jonathan Green New Seeding Lawn Fertilizerwith a 12-18-8 formula. Many types of soils have a sufficient level of Phosphorous. Phosphorous tends to tie-up in the soil, not being made available to the plant. You may also apply Phosphorous if you take a soil test within the last three years indicating that your soil has a need for more Phosphorus. Soil test kits are available at hardware stores, garden centers and your state university county extension offices. The Jonathan Green Soil pH Test Kit is an easy and affordable way to test your soil. Fertilizers derived from manipulated animal or vegetable manures (organic sources) which contain Phosphorus also are exempt from this No-Phosphorus law like Jonathan Green Organic Lawn Fertilizer 8-3-1.
Black-out dates have been established in New Jersey. This means that homeowners cannot apply lawn fertilizers from November 15th to March 1st and professional applicators cannot apply lawn fertilizers from December 1st to March 1st. Lawn fertilizer applications are prohibited just prior to or during a rainfall, or anytime the soil is saturated or frozen. Fertilizer applied to impervious surfaces such as a driveway, walkway or street must be cleaned up by sweeping up or blowing back onto the target turf area. Please note that all other materials, such as products containing Potassium, the last number listed on fertilizer bags, limestone-calcium carbonate and composts, are still legal to apply during the black-out dates of November and December through March. Soil disturbed within the time frame of the black-out dates can still have a fertilizer containing Phosphorus applied when re-seeding or sodding provided the area has an approved New Jersey Soil Conservation application and restoration plan.
In January 2012 the second part of the New Jersey lawn fertilizer law took effect. Professional fertilizer applicators must be certified, or trained and suitably supervised by a certified professional fertilizer applicator. More information is available for the professional fertilizer applicator online at the Rutgers/New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station website.
Jonathan Green is already supplying many choices of lawn fertilizers for homeowners and professional applicators in order to comply with these new laws. Most fertilizers offered for sale in New Jersey by green industry suppliers do not contain Phosphorous. This trend started a few years ago even before any laws in New Jersey were passed. The suppliers have also reduced the application rates and increased the amount of slow-release Nitrogen in their formulas. We expect waterways in New Jersey, particularly the Barnegat Bay, will show signs of improved water quality continued monitoring through water testing.
Jonathan Green recommends that you follow Best Management Practices (BMP) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines when carrying for your lawn and yard. This includes a sound lawn care program and monitoring pests in order to properly address then as needed with minimal environmental impact. Please do your part to protect the waterways in New Jersey and in your home state, it’s the law! Please check with your county extension agency or local ordinances for any restrictions regarding fertilizers in your town. For more information visit www.cleanwaternj.org.