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Fertilizer Ordinance

After algae bloom issues in Cape Coral's waterways in 2018, Councilmembers supported strengthening Fertilizer Ordinance 86-10 which had been in place since 2010. 

• § 403.9337 Florida Statutes allows the City to adopt more stringent standards than the State’s Model Ordinance to address nutrient pollution to which urban fertilizers contribute.

Use of Fertilizer Ordinance 79-21 was passed by City Council in October 2021

--> Check out the information below for key points of the updated ordinance:

Fertilizer Ordinance


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.

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. Authority is given to the City Manager to extend the Prohibited Application Period to include the month of May, for a total of 5 months.

  • There is 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 15 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 the roots of palms or shrubs in this area.

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 stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies, sidewalks, or roadways.

  • Newly established landscape plants, for 60 days 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 better 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 are 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.

  • 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.

Fertilizer is Permitted from October 1 - May 31 with the Following Restrictions:

  • 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 feet shall be applied to any area in a calendar year. A Cape Coral standard lot is 10,000 square feet

Fertilizer Calculator $$
How Much to Use

How to Fertilize Smart
For More Information:
Environmental Resources Division
Phone: (239) 574-0745