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Phosphorus Information and Ordinance

Phosphorus facts

On any bag or box of fertilizer, there is a string of three numbers. The middle number indicates the fertilizer's phosphorus content, measured as phosphate. Phosphorus is necessary to grow healthy lawns. However, most soils in Bloomington are already high in phosphorus, and adding more is not only unnecessary, but can be damaging to the environment.

To reduce the damage caused by phosphorus, a state law was passed in April 2002. The Bloomington City Council adopted an ordinance in July 2002 that brings City Code into agreement with the state law. (More information on this ordinance is offered below.)

To comply with the ordinance and law, and to help reduce the unwanted effects of excess fertilizers in our natural environment, follow these guidelines:

  • Apply only fertilizers whose middle numbers read "0", unless a valid soil test indicates a need for phosphorus.
  • Never apply fertilizer to paved or concrete surfaces.
  • Sweep spilled fertilizer off paved surfaces back into the lawn or garden it was intended for.
  • Keep soil, compost, animal droppings, manure, grass clippings, and leaves from washing into the street.

Remember, anything that enters a storm drain goes directly to a local lake or river.

Bloomington's phosphorus ordinance

Bloomington ordinance (City Code, Sec. 10.49-55) prohibits the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus on Bloomington lawns, in shoreland buffer areas, and on sidewalks and driveways. The ordinance was adopted in response to the Minnesota State Phosphorus Fertilizer Bill (S.F. No. 1555).

Exceptions where phosphorous fertilizer can still be used include:

  • Lawns that need phosphorus, as demonstrated by a valid soil test.
  • Newly established turf during the first growing season.
  • Golf courses.

The ordinance also requires that Bloomington stores that carry fertilizer containing phosphorus also carry phosphorus-free fertilizer. In addition, stores must display information regarding these regulations.

For a look at the actual wording of the phosphorus ordinance as it appears in the City Code, sections 10.49-10.55, click on the link below.