Fertilizer and Landscape Management Regulations

Fertilizer and Landscape Management Regulations
On November 19, 2013, the Temple Terrace City Council approved an ordinance limiting the use of lawn fertilizer. This new law was enacted to ensure the water quality of the City’s aquifers and springs, and the Hillsborough River, which is critical to our environment, economy, and recreation.

Below are the fertilizer and landscape regulations that were either added or modified in the City's Code of Ordinances: Section 12-617 - Definitions
Application or Apply means the actual physical deposit of fertilizer to turf or landscape plants.

Applicator means any person who applies fertilizer on turf and/or landscape plants.

Best management practices (BMPs) means scheduled of activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices to prevent or reduce pollutants from entering the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) or being discharged from the MS4. BMPs include, but are not limited to, treatment methods and practices to control the discharge of pollutants. With respect to the application of fertilizer, Best Management Practices or BMPs shall also mean turf and landscape practices which minimize the negative environmental impacts of installation and maintenance of landscapes.

Commercial Fertilizer Applicator means any person who applies fertilizer on turf and/or landscape plants in exchange for money, goods, services or other valuable consideration.

Fertilize, Fertilizing, or Fertilization means the act of applying fertilizer to turf, specialized turf, or landscape plants.

Fertilizer means any substance or mixture of substances that contains one or more recognized plant nutrients and promotes plant growth, or controls soil acidity or alkalinity, or provides other soil enrichment, or provides other corrective measures to the soil. For purposes of this section, when referring to “fertilizers” the meaning can include both those that contain nitrogen (“N”) or phosphorous (“P”), and fertilizers that do not contain those substances. Nonetheless, this section may also use the following abbreviations to reflect a specific type of content-based fertilizer: “N-fertilizer," “P-fertilizer," or fertilizer that contains either N and/or P - “N/P-fertilizer." For purposes of this section only, reclaimed water does not fall under the definition of fertilizer.

Granular means composed of small grains or particles. Granular does not include products mixed with water prior to application.

Institutional Applicator means any person, other than a non-commercial or commercial applicator, that applies fertilizer for the purpose of maintaining turf and/or landscape plants. Institutional applicators shall include, but shall not be limited to, owners and managers of public lands, schools, parks, religious institutions, utilities, industrial or business sites and any residential properties maintained in condominium and/or common ownership.

Impervious Surface means a surface that has been compacted or covered with a layer of material so that it is highly resistant or prevents infiltration by water. It includes surfaces such as compacted sand, limerock, or clay, as well as conventionally surfaced streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and other similar surfaces.

Landscape Plant means any native or exotic tree, shrub, ornamental, or groundcover (excluding turf).

Landscape Maintenance means activities carried out to manage and maintain landscape plants and turf including but not limited to mowing, edging, and trimming.

Low Maintenance Zone means an area a minimum of six (6) feet wide adjacent to surface waters which is planted with non-turf grass vegetation and managed in order to minimize the need for fertilization, watering, mowing, etc.

Pasture means land used for livestock grazing that is managed to provide feed value.

Person means any natural person, individual, public or private corporation, firm, association, joint venture, partnership, municipality, governmental agency, political subdivision, public officer, or any other entity whatsoever, or any combination of such, jointly or severally.

Guaranteed analysis means the percentage of plant nutrients or measures of neutralizing capability claimed to be present in the fertilizer.

Site Supervisor means the direct supervisor of landscape maintenance personnel.

Slow or Controlled Release fertilizer means a fertilizer containing a plant nutrient in a form which delays its availability for plant uptake and use after application, or which extends its availability to the plant significantly longer than a referenced “rapidly available nutrient fertilizer.”

Specialized Turf means areas of turf used for athletic fields, golf courses, golf course practice areas, and other private or public athletic fields.

Surface Water means those waters as identified by section 62-340.600, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), which include waters upon the surface of the earth, whether contained in bounds created naturally or artificially or diffused. They shall include, but not be limited to, bays, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, swamps, wetlands, canals, springs, impoundments and all other waters or bodies of water, including fresh, brackish or saline, tidal or intermittent, which are located, either entirely or partially, within the geographic boundaries of the City.

Turf, Sod, or Lawn means a piece of grass-covered soil held together by the roots of the grass.

Section 12-618 - Exemptions
The following activities shall be exempt from the requirements of Sections 12-619 through 12-627 of this division:

Section 12-619 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Temple Terrace, entitled Enforcement, penalties and legal proceedings, shall be amended as follows (deleted verbiage stricken through, new verbiage shown underlined):

(c) Any person who violates this division and/or fails to comply with the requirements of subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall be subject to legal action before the municipal code enforcement board or the City’s Supplemental Enforcement Procedures and shall be subject to administrative fines and liens, or other penalties, as set forth in F.S. cCh. 162. Each day of noncompliance shall constitute a separate violation.

(e) If the person(s) responsible for a violation fails to take action(s) as required in this section, the city has the right to take remedial action. All costs incurred by the city in taking such action(s) shall be reimbursed by the person(s) responsible for the illicit discharge or illicit connection violation.

Sec. 12-628 - Fertilizer and Landscape Management

12-628.1 - Purpose
To reduce the impairment to the surface waters of Temple Terrace caused by excessive nutrients, and to decrease levels of nitrogen in the surface and/or ground water within the aquifers or springs within Temple Terrace in compliance with the City’s NPDES permit.

12-628.2 – Intent
The intent of this Section is to regulate the proper use of fertilizers by any applicator; require proper training of commercial and institutional fertilizer applicators and landscape maintenance companies by establishing training and licensing requirements; establish a prohibited application period; specify allowable fertilizer application rates and methods, fertilizer-free zones, low maintenance zones, exemptions, and training and licensing requirements. This Section requires the use of best management practices (BMPs) which provide specific management guidelines to minimize negative secondary and cumulative environmental effects associated with the misuse of fertilizers and improper landscape maintenance practices. These secondary and cumulative effects have been observed in and on Temple Terrace’s stormwater and drainage conveyances, rivers, creeks, canals, springs, ponds, estuaries and other water bodies, whether they are natural or artificial. Collectively, these water bodies are an asset critical to the environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic well-being of City of Temple Terrace residents and the health of the public. Overgrowth of algae and vegetation hinder the effectiveness of flood attenuation provided by natural and artificial stormwater conveyances. Regulation of nutrients, including both phosphorus and nitrogen contained in fertilizer, will help improve and maintain water and habitat quality.

12-628.3 Applicability
This Section shall be applicable to and shall regulate any and all applicators of fertilizer, areas of application of fertilizer, and landscape maintenance activities within Temple Terrace, unless such applicator or activity is specifically exempted by the terms of this Section from the regulatory provisions of this Section. Exemptions are located in Section 12-628.9.

12-628.4 Weather and seasonal restrictions
No applicator shall apply fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus to turf and/or landscape plants during one or more of the following events: i) if it is raining at the application site, or ii) within the time period during which a flood watch or warning, or a tropical storm watch or warning, or a hurricane watch or warning is in effect for any portion of Temple Terrace, issued by the National Weather Service, or iii) within 36 hours prior to a rain event greater than or equal to 2 inches in a 24 hour period is likely.

12-628.5 Fertilizer content and application rate
(a) N/P-fertilizers shall be applied to turf and/or landscape plants at the recommended rate per the “Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries”, December 2008, as revised. However, no more than four (4) pounds of nitrogen per 1000 ft² shall be applied in any calendar year.

(b) No fertilizer containing phosphorus shall be applied to turf and/or landscape plants in Temple Terrace, except where phosphorus deficiency has been demonstrated in the soil underlying the turf and/or landscape plants by a soil analysis test performed by a State of Florida-certified laboratory.

Any person who obtains such a soil analysis test showing a phosphorus deficiency and who wishes to apply phosphorus to turf and/or landscape plants shall maintain a copy of the test results for two years and allow the City Manager or his designee to review the results upon request.

(c) Nitrogen fertilizer shall not be applied before planting new turf or on newly established turf for the first 30 days.

(d) Liquid fertilizers containing nitrogen applied to turf and/or landscape plants within Temple Terrace shall not be applied at a rate that exceeds 0.5 lbs/1000 ft² per application.

(e) It is a violation of this Section to fail to comply with the provisions of this Section and any requirements set forth in Rule 5E-1.003(2), F.A.C., Labeling Requirements For Urban Turf Fertilizers.

12-628.6 Impervious surfaces and mode of application
(a) Fertilizer shall not be applied or otherwise deposited on any impervious surfaces. Any fertilizer applied or deposited, either intentionally or accidentally, on any impervious surface shall be immediately and completely removed to the greatest extent practicable. Fertilizer released on an impervious surface must be immediately contained and either legally applied to turf or any other legal site, or returned to the original or other appropriate container. Fertilizer shall not be washed, swept, or blown off impervious surfaces into stormwater drains, ditches, drainage conveyances, roadways, or surface waters.

(b) Spreader deflector shields are required when applying fertilizer by use of any broadcast or rotary spreader. Deflector shields must be positioned such that fertilizer granules are deflected away from all impervious surfaces and surface waters.

12-628.7 Fertilizer-free zones
Fertilizer shall not be applied within ten (10) feet from the landward extent of any surface water as identified in section 62-340.600(2), F.A.C.

12-628.8 Management of grass clippings and vegetative material

It shall be a violation of this section for any person to wash, sweep, blow or otherwise cause grass clippings, leaves, or other vegetative material to be deposited into stormwater drains, ditches, drainage conveyances, sewer systems, surface waters, or roadways.

12-628.9 Exemptions
(a) The following activities are exempt from this section:

(1) Golf courses. For all golf courses and associated practice areas, the provisions of the
FDEP document, “BMPs for the Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf
Courses, January 2007,” as updated, are required and shall be followed.

(2) Bona fide farm operations as defined in the Florida Right to Farm Act, section 823.14,
Florida Statutes.

(3) Other properties not subject to or covered under the Florida Right to Farm Act that
have pastures for grazing livestock;

(4) Any lands used for bona fide scientific research, including, but not limited to, research
on the effects of fertilizer use on urban stormwater, water quality, agronomics or

(b) Section 12-628.5 (Fertilizer content and application rate) shall not apply to fertilizer applications on specialized turf, including but not limited to, privately and publicly operated athletic fields. Specialized turf managers must follow the provisions and directions in section 5E-1.003(2)(d), F.A.C., all other provision of this Section, and all applicable provisions of the Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries, as updated. Notwithstanding the definition of specialized turf, golf course and golf practice areas are governed by the exemption in subsection (a)(1) above.

12-628.10 Certification and training
(a) All commercial applicators and their supervisors, as well as government and institutional applicators, site supervisors and managers of professional landscape supervisors, and any employee of a lawn and landscape maintenance company performing fertilizer application shall (i) abide by and successfully complete a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) approved BMP training program and have and carry in their possession at all times a copy of the certificate of completion of such program when applying fertilizer within the City, (ii) comply with Rule Chapter 1-15 of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County (EPCHC), and (iii) after December 31, 2013, have and carry in their possession at all times when applying fertilizer within the City evidence of certification by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a Commercial Fertilizer Applicator per Rule 5E-14.117(18), F.A.C. The certificates required herein shall be provided to the City of Temple Terrace representative such as a Code Enforcement Officer or Public Works Department Stormwater Division staff upon request.

(b) A vehicle decal issued by the EPCHC Executive Director or other authorized organization indicating that the company is in compliance with the training and certification requirements of Chapter 1-15 of the EPCHC shall be affixed and maintained on the exterior of all vehicles used by any company in connection with landscape maintenance activities and/or the application of fertilizer within the City.

(c) All businesses applying fertilizer to turf and/or landscape plants (including but not limited to residential lawns, golf courses, commercial properties, and multi-family and condominium properties) must ensure that at least one employee has a “Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries” training certificate or a certificate from a substantially equivalent training program prior to the business owner obtaining a Local Business Tax Certificate. Owners of any category of occupation which may apply any fertilizer to turf and/or landscape plants shall provide proof of completion of such a program to the City.

12-628.11 Recommendations and additional information
(a) A voluntary six (6) foot low-maintenance, “no-mow” zone is strongly recommended from those areas described as fertilizer-free zones in section 12-628.7 to reduce the potential for N/P-fertilizer residue entering adjacent water bodies and wetlands. A swale/berm system is recommended for installation at the landward edge of this low maintenance zone to capture and filter runoff. No vegetative material shall be deposited or left remaining in this zone or in the water. Care should be taken to prevent the overspray of aquatic weed products in this zone.

(b) It is recommended that the application of fertilizer for properties using reclaimed water service be reduced in accordance with the nutrient level contained in the reclaimed water. This information is available through the County and municipal water departments.

(c) The City strongly recommends the establishment of training programs using English and Spanish-speaking certified BMP trainers.

(d) The City recommends that private homeowners become familiar with and utilize the recommendations of the current IFAS Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook when applying fertilizer.

(e) It is recommended that granular fertilizers containing nitrogen applied to turf and/or landscape plants contain the maximum available percent of slow release nitrogen possible per guaranteed analysis label.

(f) Collection and proper disposal of pet waste is encouraged, consistent with City Code Section 6-37.

(g) This section is not applicable to farm manure products and dolomite.

(h) The City will conduct an educational campaign regarding this section.

(i) Funds generated by penalties imposed for violation of the provisions of this section shall be used by the City for the administration and enforcement of this section, and to further water conservation and nonpoint pollution prevention activities.