New Maryland laws on lawn care

Image of house that utilizes green landscaping practices.
July 1, 2013

Beginning October 1, 2013, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers will be required to follow University of Maryland recommendations when fertilizing lawns. Mandatory restrictions, similar to those imposed for lawn care professionals, apply:

  • A single application may not exceed 0.9 pound total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and 0.7 pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
  • Homeowners are prohibited from applying fertilizer to sidewalks, driveways or other impervious surfaces. Any product that lands on these surfaces must be swept back onto lawns.
  • No fertilizer applications within 15 feet of waterways. This setback is reduced to 10 feet if a drop spreader, rotary spreader with deflector or targeted spray liquid is used to apply fertilizer.
  • No lawn fertilizer may be applied between November 15 and March 1 and when the ground is frozen.
  • Fertilizers may not be used to de-ice walkways and driveways.
  • Do not fertilize if heavy rain is predicted.
  • Phosphorus may only be applied to lawns when indicated by soil test results or when the homeowner is establishing, patching or renovating a lawn.

Graphic of fish fertilizing a stream.

Helpful Documentation for How to Care for Your Lawn

How to Fertilizer Your Lawn Responsibly (PDF, 1.19MB) – The fertilizer law in a nutshell.

Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay (PDF, 412 KB) – Five conservation practices that farmers and homeowners can use to help keep the Bay clean.


Maryland Professional Lawn Care Manual

The Maryland Professional Lawn Care Manual is now available on the Maryland Department of Agriculture website.

Signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2011, Maryland’s lawn fertilizer law includes new requirements for fertilizer manufacturers, homeowners and lawn care professionals who must now be licensed and certified to apply fertilizers to properties that they manage. The law takes effect October 1, 2013 and is designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from excess nutrients entering its waters from a variety of urban sources, including golf courses, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields, businesses and hundreds of thousands of suburban and urban lawns.

Regulations to implement the law were published in the Maryland Register earlier this year. Certification testing is slated to begin this fall and expected to be ongoing in order to address demand and busy schedules as the program begins. For more information on training classes and testing dates, visit the MDA website or contact MDA’s Urban Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959.

3 comments on "New Maryland laws on lawn care"

  1. lawn maintenance says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this amazing site needs a great deal
    more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks
    for the info!

  2. There is a home on Taylor park rd in Howard county, off route 32 that is the most horrible site that anyone has ever seen…is their a law that requires them to clean it up…Please help

  3. James Curry says:

    I love to protect the waterways but many landscapers abuse waterways by blowing debris into our neighborhood streets and county roads. I can’t understand why there’s no Maryland Law against this practice. Really trashing our community’s, please observe! Thanks

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