Fertilizers and weed killers applied to lawns by homeowners or commercial lawn maintenance companies can run off the lawns following heavy rains, impairing the water quality of adjacent streams, ponds, and lakes. They can also infiltrate into the soils, threatening shallow wells. Restrictions on the types of chemicals that can be used and on their rates of application can reduce pollution risks to water resources and help protect the public health.
Lawn applications of chemicals can, in the aggregate, generate large amounts of nutrient loading to nearby ground- and surface-water resources. Limiting the types of chemicals being applied (for example, banning phosphorus, a chemical that can readily cause harmful algal blooms in streams) can help maintain water quality. Limiting the amounts of fertilizers, herbicides, and chemicals being applied to lawns can also reduce pollution risks.
Lawn management ordinances are very difficult to enforce, especially with respect to private homeowners doing their own lawn work. It will be easier to regulate lawn care companies and much more effective to educate homeowners about the risks of improper lawn chemical use than to try and regulate their activities directly.
Example 1: City of Minneapolis, MN
Description: Lawn Fertilizer Ordinance to protect the city’s lakes and rivers.
Example 2: Minnesota
Description: A statewide restriction on phosphorous fertilizers. The website has links to the law and other supporting documents.
Example 3: City of Ann Arbor, MI
Description: An ordinance restricting the types manufactured fertilizers allowed to be used within the city.