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Homeowners and Residents

The revisions to the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law in July 2022 brought new responsibilities to homeowners and residents who apply fertilizer to their lawns.

A summary of the key requirements is provided on this page. Refer to the Fertilizer Law, Resources Page, and FAQs for more details.


What do I need to know about fertilizing my lawn?

Homeowners and residents are required to be aware of and to follow the nutrient application rate limits, fertilizer application location restrictions, and best management practices as specified in the law and written on the product label.

How do I know how much fertilizer I should apply to my lawn?

The best way to determine the amount and type of nutrient your lawn and garden needs is to test your soil. Over fertilizing can be detrimental to plant growth and an expensive loss of nutrients that can have negative environmental consequences.

Soil sampling instructions and Soil Test Kits are available from your local Penn State Extension Office on the Resources page.

You must follow prescribed application amounts found on the product label and you may not exceed the following limits:

    • 0.7 lbs/1000 ft2 of plant available nitrogen per application.
    • 0.9 lbs/1000 ft2 of total nitrogen per application, unless it is an enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizer
    • No phosphate may be applied unless you are establishing, reestablishing, or repairing a turf area or you are using an enhanced efficiency phosphorus fertilizer.
      • Application of enhanced efficiency phosphorus, natural organic fertilizer or organic-based fertilizers may not exceed 0.25 lbs/1000 ft2.

What are the fertilizer application restrictions?

Keeping fertilizer where it is needed for plant growth is important for meeting your lawn needs. Therefore, following the best management practices outlined on the product label will help keep your fertilizer in place. A summary of the restrictions is provided below:

    • Maintain a 15-foot buffer from top bank of lakes, ponds, wetlands, or flowing bodies of water.
    • Do not apply near water, storm drains, or drainage ditches.
    • Do not apply if a heavy rain is expected.
    • Do not apply to impervious surfaces. Promptly sweep any material that lands on an impervious surface back onto turf.
    • Do not apply if the ground is frozen or snow covered.
    • Apply fertilizer using a properly calibrated device designed for fertilizer.
    • Do not use fertilizer to melt snow or ice.
    • Do not store or dispose of fertilizer inconsistent with its label or in a manner that would result in a direct discharge to waterways.

What should I consider when hiring a lawn care provider?

Pennsylvania has many excellent professional lawn care providers. It is important to choose the right company to meet your lawn care needs. Here are some questions to consider when searching for a lawn care specialist.

    • Does the company conduct a soil test to determine the correct nutrient needs for your lawn?
    • What other factors does the company consider when determining how to treat your lawn?        
    • Is the company aware of and do they comply with the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law requirements?