CLEARWATER A new ordinance goes into effect Wednesday in Pinellas County banning the sale and use of lawn fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus during the rainy season.
The ban, which includes all of the county's municipalities, ends Sept. 30.
The commonly used ingredients, which help keep lawns green, are causing problems in Tampa Bay area waterways, said Holly Greening, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
"When excess nutrients run off the land, it can result in an algae bloom, which can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and cause fish kills," Greening said.
The problem is that during the summer months the afternoon thunderstorms can dump several inches of water in a short amount of time, and wash away recently applied fertilizer.
At the Lowe's home improvement store in Clearwater, the shelves are already marked showing which fertilizers are approved for summer use. On Wednesday those containing the banned nutrients will be removed.
Lowe's garden specialist and master gardener Sally Ervin said there are substitute products homeowners can use to keep their lawns healthy and green through the summer.
She recommends using iron products, compost or cow manure. Sunniland, a Florida manufacturer, also has a product without nitrogen and phosphorus called Summergreen. It costs about the same as traditional fertilizers.
Pinellas' ordinance is one of the most restrictive in West Central Florida. Manatee and Sarasota counties restrict the use of fertilizers, but don't ban the sale of the products. Hillsborough County has no rules on the use or sale of fertilizers. Later this week, however, the city of Tampa plans to consider implementing its own fertilizer ordinance.