Florida Department of Environmental Protection
A recent study funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) proves St Augustine lawns do not pollute. This is good news to lawn owners for two reasons:
1 - The study proves that a St Augustine grass lawn is the best ground cover for urban environments to reduce pollutants in our water bodies and,
2 - Eliminates Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) reasons for reducing water and fertilizers usage on St Augustine Lawns because state-funded research clearly shows that lawns are good for the urban environment.
Summary of Research
The study was conducted over four years at various sites and under multiple fertilization and irrigation regimes. Notable results are:
- Pollution (Nitrate leeching) was insignificant in St Augustine grass lawns
- Pollution (Nitrate leeching) during summer raining seasons did not significantly increase with applied fertilizers
- There was no difference between slow-release and water-soluble nitrogen sources
- Healthy St Augustine grass – well-watered, mowed properly, and insect-free – was the perfect ground cover for the urban environment
Other Thoughts on SWFWMD’s Actions
I was appalled at the arrogance of SWFWMD discounting previous research on this issue because it was paid for by the turf industry. Then ignoring that research, as well as the warnings from researchers at the University of Florida, SWFWMD mandated watering and fertilizer restrictions for Pinellas County. Now research funded by FDEP clearly shows these actions served no greater good for our environment and therefore were unnecessary and burdensome on the public. And why? Because 5 million pounds of soil produce 1 pound of nitrates – which is so insignificant it is barely measurable much less an impact on our environment. Yet it cost homeowners thousands of dollars to repair and replace lawns destroyed by these ordinances.
According to the study, SWFWMD was wrong to set restrictions on the watering and fertilization of St Augustine lawns. Research clearly demonstrates that a healthy St Augustine lawn – a lawn that is well watered, fertilized, mowed properly, and insect-free – is best for our urban environment.
Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of Iloveturf.com.
Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape contractor, and irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College.
Currently, Rick is the owner and operator of APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control provides lawn care and pest control for all of Pinellas County.
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