How the Nitrogen Black Out Effects Lawn Spraying and St Augustine Turf Grass Lawns


By Rick Orr
Sign showing misinformation from Pinellas County Nitrogen Blackout
Why misinform the public? The environmentalist activists working for the government want you to not fertilize your lawn.

Nitrogen Blackout Not Fertilizer Ban

There is no fertilizer ban – there is a nitrogen black-out from June 1st until October 1st. You can still fertilize with other fertilizers – Iron, Sulfur, Potassium, etc., just no nitrogen. This is not optimum or even good science.

The sign was at the corner of 4th Street and 62nd Ave North, June 1st, 2015. This sign, put up by the city officials, is a lie about an ordinance the city officials created. They should know better. The sign should say “Nitrogen Application Ban”. But I believe this was intentional. It is the city officials trying to malign the green industry by convincing the public that A) Fertilizers are banned and B) Fertilizers are harmful (that’s why they were banned).

The Real Culprit

All organic matter is 5% nitrogen - leaves, pollen, pet waste, etc and eventually ends up in water bodies except those that land on a healthy lawn. A healthy lawn will "compost" leaves, pollen, pet waste, and more into plant food and recycle it. However human waste enters the water table (below the lawn) via leaky pipes connecting the home and the sewer. It is believed that nearly all homes built before 1980 and many after 1980 have leaky connections.  

A Better Way

St Augustine grass is one of the best filter plants on the planet. The more St Augustine grass in Pinellas, the cleaner the urban environment and water bodies. Adding small amounts of fertilizer feeds this important filter plant and keeps it healthy and actively cleans our environment.

Study Shows Summer Best for Nitrogen Applications

A study by the University of Florida, funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection showed nitrogen applied during the rapid growth periods of summer was less likely to move into the water bodies than during winter months. It would be best to apply small amounts of nitrogen year-round. However, the nitrogen blackout forces us to apply higher rates in the winter to compensate for the blackout.

Fertilizing the Lawn During the Blackout

This summer, while treating for chinch bugs, grubs, mole crickets, and sod webworms, APL Pest Control will be applying non-nitrogen fertilizers. For customers who have been receiving regular applications over the past eight months, we applied extra nitrogen to build up nitrogen levels to last through the blackout. This is not optimum for the grass or the environment, but until the law changes, it is what we are forced to do.


Rick Orr Owner-Staff Agronomist Barefoot Grassl/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass

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 

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, irrigation, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the Staff Agronomist at Barefoot Grass in Largo, FL. To learn more about Barefoot Grass Free Price Quote from Barefoot Grass for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Care 

Find Rick on these social sites: