Accessibility Information

Public Works

Fertilizer Ordinance

CC_fertilizer with green water

• Previous Fertilizer Ordinance 86-10 was in place since 2010. After the 2018 algae blooms, Councilmembers supported strengthening of the Fertilizer Ordinance.
• Florida Department of Environmental Protection identified some water bodies in Cape Coral as 
“impaired” as a result of excess nutrients.
• § 403.9337 Florida Statutes allows the City to adopt more stringent standards than the State’s Model 
Ordinance to address nonpoint source of nutrients pollution, to which urban fertilizers contribute.
• City Council Meeting s- October 6, 2021 Ordinance 79-21 passed by City Council


Excess nutrients impact the water quality within the City's canal system and surrounding waters. These nutrients can lead to algae blooms, decreased oxygen levels and fish kills.

Click here to download a letter sent to lawn care businesses

These regulations apply to homeowners as well as commercial applicators. Homeowners are encouraged, but not required, to learn about Florida-friendly landscaping practices by taking a Florida Yards and Neighborhoods class through the City's Parks Department or from the Lee County Extension Service. Commercial applicators are required to earn certification in Best Management Practices (BMPs; see below).

Timing Restrictions
  • No fertilizing (nitrogen and phosphorus) between June 1 and September 30.
  • No fertilizing if Flood Watch or Warning, Tropical Storm Watch or Warning, or Hurricane Watch or Warning is in effect.
Fertilizer-Free Zones

No fertilizing within 10 feet of the top of a seawall or any water body (e.g., canals, lakes, wetlands, ponds, stream watercourse), except by hand dispersion to ensure no material ends up in the water body. The intent is to only fertilize roots of palms or shrubs in this area.

 Content of Fertilizer

  • Fertilizer must contain no less than 50% slow-release nitrogen.
  • Fertilizer should be applied at the lowest rate, but no more than 4 lbs. of nitrogen per 1000 square foot shall be applied to any area in a calendar year. A Cape Coral standard lot is 10,000 square feet.
  • How much to apply? 
Application Practices
  • Any fertilizer ending up on an impervious surface must be immediately contained and removed to be stored or applied appropriately. Fertilizer may not be swept, washed or blown off impervious surfaces into any water body.
  • Deflector shields must be used on spreaders and positioned so granules are deflected away from fertilizer free zones, impervious surfaces and water bodies.
  • No grass clippings, vegetative material or debris, either intentionally or accidentally may be swept or blown into storm water drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies, sidewalks, or roadways.
  • Newly established landscape plants, for a 60 day period beginning 30 days after planting, but caution should be used so no material ends up in a water body. This allows plants time to get established and be better able to utilize the fertilizer.
  • Vegetable gardens, provided they are not within 15 feet of any water body.
  • Yard waste composts, mulches or other similar materials that are primarily organic and are applied to improve the physical condition of the soil.
  • Lands used for bona fide farming, pasture or scientific research.
  • Golf courses, provided that they are following "Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Golf Courses" as provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
Information for Commercial Applicators
  • All commercial and institutional applicators shall successfully complete the six-hour training program in the "Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries" offered by the University of Florida Extension Service. This program can be taken at Terry Park from the Lee County Extension Service or online. This shall be repeated a minimum of every five years.
  • There is a 180-day grace period from November 29, 2010 for applicators to comply.
  • Applicators shall provide proof of successful completion of the program to the Licensing Division of the City's Department of Community Development. They will then be issued vehicle decals which shall be affixed and maintained to the rear bumpers of vehicles and trailers.

For more information from Lee County, including information on the County's fertilizer ordinance and details on how to choose and buy fertilizer, click here.