Maryland Fertilizer Law

Written by Turf Republic | July 1, 2013 |

If you are applying fertilizers in the state of Maryland, better check the new laws. These new laws in our opinion finally go where others wouldn’t to the homeowner.  Although it really comes down to enforcement, which we will have to wait and see how that is done, homeowners now carry the burden of applying fertilizers responsibly and by the law.  You can get the details of the entire Maryland Fertilizer Law at:  Maryland Department of Agriculture

Here are some highlights of the new law:

Fertilizer Manufacturers and Distributors

Requires lawn fertilizer products sold in Maryland to include label directions to ensure that no more than 0.9 pound of total nitrogen is applied per 1,000 square feet; at least 20 percent of this nitrogen must be in a slow release form. The maximum amount of water soluble nitrogen in lawn fertilizer products applied per 1,000 square feet is capped at 0.7 pound. Effective October 1, 2013

Lawn Care Professionals

Training: University of Maryland Extension (UME) is developing a training manual to prepare individuals to take the certification  exam. Training classes will be available in 2013.
Check this site for updates.

Certification: Individuals and companies hired to apply fertilizers must be certified by MDA or work under the direct supervision of an individual who is certified. MDA will offer fertilizer applicator certification exams beginning fall 2013 and will publish a list of certified professional fertilizer applicators on its website.

Licensing: Licenses will be required for all businesses engaged in commercial fertilizer applications. Each business will be required to employ at least one certified fertilizer applicator. Licenses to qualifying firms will be available beginning fall 2013.

Homeowner and Other Residential Users

Beginning October 1, 2013, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers will be required to follow University of Maryland recommendations when fertilizing lawns. Mandatory restrictions, similar to those imposed for lawn care professionals, apply :

  • Homeowners must follow University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations when applying nitrogen to lawns.
  • A single application may not exceed 0.9 pound total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and 0.7 pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
    Homeowners are prohibited from applying fertilizer to sidewalks, driveways or other impervious surfaces. Any product that lands on these surfaces must be swept back onto lawns.
  • No fertilizer applications within 15 feet of waterways. This setback is reduced to 10 feet if a drop spreader, rotary spreader with deflector or targeted spray liquid is used to apply fertilizer.

    New construction site sediment pollution regulations

Protect All Exposed Soils 7 Days After Clearance

Among the most important new requirements is that all exposed construction site soils must be protected from erosive forces within seven days of initial clearance. For most of a site, this means all disturbed areas must be covered with a layer of mulch (straw, etc.) sufficiently thick to obscure underlying soils. An equally important new requirement is that 95% vegetative (grass) cover must be achieved.

Silt Fence & Settling Ponds Can’t Protect The Bay; Only Thick Mulch & Grass

In the past most sites might have a sparse cover of grass and mulch resulting in vast quantities of eroded soil flowing into nearby waters. It takes thick mulch and 95% cover to prevent pollution of nearby waters. Perimeter measures like black silt fence and settling ponds simply can’t retain enough mud pollution on-site. In fact, whenever you see exposed soil on a construction site, you can assume pollution will occur come the next storm. In other words: Exposed Soil = Pollution. Please report it at the Watershed Advocates Construction ES=P Database and/or to your local enforcement agency.

Sites Present Before March Must Have 95% Grass Cover By April 15th

Of course grass will not begin growing until March with another two- to four-weeks needed to achieve 95% cover. If a site was cleared prior to March, yet by April 15th you see something less than 95% grass cover then you are also witnessing a violation of one of our most important aquatic resource protection laws. Again, please report it promptly! This is the best way to ensure this new law is fully enforced and the Bay and her tributaries are fully protected.

Detailed Guidance

For further detail see Exposed Soil = Pollution: How You Can Save 100 Feet of Chesapeake Bay Tributaries in an Hour by Halting Construction Site Mud Pollution