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March 8, 2012

As more people focus on their lawns and landscaping this time of year, the Southwest Florida Water Management District promotes Florida-friendly fertilizing practices.

Florida-friendly fertilizing is an annual campaign encouraging residents to responsibly maintain their lawns.

Recent studies have shown rising nitrate levels in many local water bodies can be traced to fertilizer. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen found in inorganic fertilizers. When fertilizer is applied correctly, the lawn absorbs the nitrogen. However, fertilizers applied improperly run off lawns and into local water bodies, harming water quality and threatening the plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival.

Florida-friendly fertilizing emphasizes these tips:

• Use slow-release fertilizers.

• Always follow package directions.

• Don’t fertilize before a heavy rain.

• Fertilize only when needed and only when grass is actively growing.

Residents can visit for step-by-step instructions on fertilizing appropriately and to watch corresponding how-to-videos. Residents also can order a free “Do-It-Yourself Guide to Florida-Friendly Fertilizing” for more information.

Fertilizing appropriately is one of the nine principles ““Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, a set of guidelines developed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to protect our natural resources while promoting beautiful landscapes.

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