Phosphorous Fertilizer Information - Turf

Summary of the Vermont Turf Fertilizer Law
Full Copy of the Vermont Turf Fertilizer Law


Act No. 37 (H.26) is the law regulating phosphorus application to turf in Vermont, which took effect on January 1st, 2012. This act regulates the application and retail display of fertilizer intended for commercial or residential use.

• The act prohibits the application to turf of fertilizer with a phosphate content of greater than 0.67 percent by weight (essentially "0"), except when turf is deficient in phosphorus as shown by a soil test or when fertilizer is labeled as starter fertilizer intended for application to turf in the first season when grass is being established.
• The act also prohibits the application to turf of nitrogen fertilizer that has a nitrogen content of less than 15 percent slow-release nitrogen.
• The act also prohibits the application of any fertilizer to an impervious surface, except for activities regulated under the accepted agricultural practices.
• Similarly, the act prohibits application of fertilizer to turf before April 1 or after October 15 in any calendar year.
• The act also prohibits the application of fertilizer to turf within 25 feet of waters of the state.
• In addition, the act requires a retailer who sells or offers for sale phosphorus fertilizer to consumers to display the non-phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus fertilizer and to post in the retail location, if any, where phosphorus fertilizer is accessible to the consumer a clearly visible sign (see below) regarding the threat that phosphorus fertilizer poses to water quality and the fact that phosphorus fertilizer shall not be applied to lawn unless applied to new lawn or lawn deficient for phosphorus.

Here is a sign designed by the "Lawn to Lake Group" that meets the Act 37 requirements, and may be used by retailers:

• A person who knowingly or intentionally violates the requirements of the act shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500.00 per violation.

Note:  Law only pertains to fertilizer labeled for TURF.

Lawn Care Companies and Homeowners (applying to your own lawn) in VT

• Any fertilizer applied to turf must have zero phosphorus, unless you are establishing a new lawn (first growing season only) or have a soil test that shows P is needed.  The only soil test that we have approved so far is the UVM testing lab.  Over the counter test kits are NOT acceptable.  We will consider soil tests from other labs, as long as they are using Modified Morgan to determine the P content.
• Any fertilizer that ends up on an impervious surface (driveway, sidewalk, street, etc.) must be swept up immediately.
• Fertilizer can only be applied to turf between April 1st and October 15th of any Calendar year, and only when the ground is NOT frozen.
• No turf fertilizer may be applied within 25 ft of surface water.
• Law took effect January 1, 2012.

Golf Courses

Golf Courses are exempt from this law, but are required to have a golf course nutrient management plan as part of their golf course permit.

Links for More Information

The Lawn-to-Lake Group – Vermont and Up-state New York Phosphorus Turf Fertilizer Information