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Fertilizer Law

The District’s Fertilizer Law took effect on April 20, 2013, and is formally known as the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fertilizer Act of 2012.

It is important to apply fertilizer correctly to get the greatest benefits for your lawn and to help protect the environment. Rain and too much watering can carry fertilizer into storm drains that flow directly into Rock Creek and the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. The District’s Fertilizer Law is an important step toward restoring our waterways. Learn more about fertilizer’s environmental impacts.

Regulated Entities

Individuals and entities who apply fertilizer to turf for wages (lawn care professionals) in the District of Columbia and entities that distribute or sell fertilizer in the District of Columbia must comply with the law. Turf is non-agricultural, managed grasses, such as lawns, athletic fields, and parks. District residents and property owners who apply fertilizer to their lawns are strongly encouraged to follow the law's requirements and ensure their lawn care professionals are aware of the law.

Enforcement/Fines

Lawn care professionals, distributors, and retailors will be subject to inspections. Those who fail to comply may be fined.

Requirements

  Homeowners:

  • Most established lawns do not need fertilizer. To save money and get the best results, it is recommended you test your soil and only use fertilizer to provide nutrients that are found to be lacking.
  • Voluntarily follow the same guidelines as Lawn Care Professionals.

  Lawn Care Professionals: (see flyer attached below)

  Retailers and Distributers: (see flyer attached below)

  • Effective June 28, 2016, retail stores that sell fertilizer for turf must also prominently display DOEE’s Fertilizer Law signage.
  • Effective April 20, 2013, entities that distribute or sell fertilizer in the District must ensure the fertilizer is labeled according to one of the following two options:
Fertilizer Labeling Options

Option 1 - Display the following:

  • Percent of total nitrogen, including the percentages of water soluble and water insoluble nitrogen;
  • Percent of available phosphate (phosphorous);
  • Percent of available potash (potassium); and
  • Place the following statement on the display side of the container or on the upper third of the side used:

“Do not apply near water, storm drains, or drainage ditches. Do not apply if heavy rain is expected. Apply this product only to your lawn, and sweep any product that lands on the driveway, sidewalk, or street, back onto your lawn.”

Option 2 - Display the environmental hazard statement recommended for that product by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Label Review Manual).

Questions?  For more information, please contact 202-535-2600.

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