In Suffolk County, the application of lawn fertilizers between November 1st and April 1st is prohibited:
From the county Healthy Lawns web page:
“To protect Long Island’s waters, applying fertilizer in Suffolk County from November 1 to April 1 is prohibited. But you’ve come to the right place to find out how we can have Healthy lawns & Clean water.”
I ask you, have you ever known anyone who actually put fertilizer on their lawns during the four coldest months of the year? Of course not! People dump fertilizer — along with the pesticides – on their lawns in Spring, Summer and Fall. Here is a perfect example how you can have a law that purports to do something in the public interest, in this case “for the environment,” when actually it does nothing. The definition of “a toothless law.” No one actually changes their behavior. Sales of fertilizer don’t change. Landscaping companies that choose to use water poisoning high nitrogen fertilizers continue to spread it on their customer’s properties April 1st – Oct 31st, just as they always have. Water quality remains abysmal. Bays, rivers and ponds continue, county wide, to die off.
Environmentalists pressed to put a law on the books to try and protect our groundwater, our drinking water, and our ponds, rivers, and bays. They got this cynical Kabuki theatre of a law instead. You can read the rest of the county’s guidelines for fertilizer use on the county’s so-called Healthy Lawns web page. Be advised, even if you are able to actually understand all the procedures they recommend and can follow them to the letter, you will still be following guidelines that fall far short of what Suffolk County actually needs to protect its waters and will be protecting the status quo instead.
Unless and until Suffolk County’s legislature proves capable of representing the interests of the people of Suffolk County by passing a law that actually protects the environment, it is really up to its citizens to just flat refuse to use products that are demonstrably damaging to our waters. It is also up to the landscaping companies, the hundreds of them, that serve the Long Island population. There are safe organic substitutes for the high nitrogen quick release fertilizers on the market, to the toxic pesticides that kill “pests” and disrupt the entire ecosystem in the process.
Anything we put on our lawns eventually ends up in our groundwater, our drinking water, our ponds, rivers and bays. A good rainstorm April – October sends a flood of high nitrogen runoff into our waters, helping to fuel the brown tide, red tide, blue-green algae, rust tide, mahogany tide, etc that are just devastating our waters. While the majority of the nitrogen pollution in Suffolk County’s bays is from the 360,000 cesspools and septic tanks that now sit in our sandy soil, unquestionably the sudden injection of nitrogen from a good rainstorm is like throwing gasoline on a fire, and the flood of pesticides that come with that runoff affects our marine life, and in ways we don’t yet fully understand.
You can have a beautiful lawn without using these artificial quick release fertilizers, without toxifying the environment with pesticides. Don’t believe it? Check out The Perfect Earth Project. They have a number of organic lawn care specialists they have trained and can recommend as well.
Here’s their founder Edwina von Gal on my show Water Matters speaking on organic lawn care.
Want to learn how to bring about a local moratorium on lawn fertilizers and pesticides? Ask Save The Great South Bay to come and speak at your South Shore town, as groups in Bayshore, Babylon, Sayville, Bayport and Patchogue already have. The only way to save the Great South Bay and the rest of our bays is to change what we are doing on the mainland. Every community needs to have its own local moratorium on fertilizers and pesticides if it values the future of its local environment.