November 15th! The last day to fertilize laws legally in Maryland.

Time is running out to winterize the lawn for this year in Maryland. Lawn care professionals recommend fertilizing and seeding before winters sets in. But in Maryland, the time is limited.

Homeowners have until November 15th under the state’s Lawn Fertilizer Law intended to keep runoff from flowing in the Chesapeake Bay.

lawn fertilizationLawn care professionals have until December 1, as long they use certain products — without nitrogen or phosphorus — that reduce the risk of nutrients from flowing into the water system.

When plants go dormant or die in the fall, they stop drawing in the fertilizer. The rain then washes the nutrients into the Bay, causing fish kills. The nitrogen and phosphorus basically suck-out the oxygen, creating dead zones.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) says both citizens and lawn care pros may resume lawn fertilizer applications March 1, as long as the ground is not frozen or heavy rain is not predicted.

Maryland’s lawn fertilizer law went into effect October 1, 2013. Lawn care professionals must be licensed and certified by MDA to apply fertilizer to the properties they manage. Both homeowners and lawn pros must follow University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations and “best use management practices” when fertilizing lawns.

You can find a lit of MDA-certified lawn care professionals on its website at

Lawn fertilizer products containing nitrogen or phosphorus CANNOT: 

■ Be applied by homeowners between November 16 and March 1

■ Be applied by lawn care pros between December 1 and March 1. From November 16 through December 1, only water soluble nitrogen (not slow release) may be applied to lawns at a maximum rate of ½ pound per 1,000 square feet

■ Be applied to lawns when the ground is frozen or if heavy rain is predicted

■ Be used to de-ice walkways and driveways

■ Be applied within 15 feet of streams or other waterways. This setback is reduced to 10 feet if a drop spreader, rotary spreader with deflector or targeted spray liquid is used.


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