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Urban Nutrient Management

Spreading fertilizer

An urban nutrient management plan is a plan prepared by a Virginia certified nutrient management planner to manage the amount, placement, timing and application of fertilizer, biosolids, or other materials containing plant nutrients in order to reduce nutrient loss to the environment and to produce quality turf and landscape plants.

It's one solution to the nutrient pollution problem that causes algae overgrowth and "dead zones" in many waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay. It also can help homeowners build a lush, healthy lawn.

An urban nutrient management plan is a site-specific plan that provides agronomic and environmentally sound recommendations for applying nutrients to turfgrass.

Nutrient management plans generally are developed for the following landscape types:

  • Golf courses
  • Athletic fields
  • Community and business parks
  • Common areas in developed communities
  • Residential lawns

Here are two sample plans:

Urban nutrient management acreage goal

Previous turfgrass covers an estimated 1.2 million acres of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Virginia. According to Virginia's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), 363,000 acres must be addressed by nutrient management plans by 2025. Nutrient management plans written by certified planners help Virginia track success in meeting this goal.

Required urban nutrient management plans

Urban nutrient management plans are required for golf courses and state-owned lands, as well as publicly owned land that is fertilized within a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit area. Urban nutrient management plans must be written by certified planners, and plans for golf courses and state-owned lands must be approved by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Voluntary urban nutrient management plans

DCR encourages all turfgrass and landscape professionals to consider nutrient management plans for the areas they manage. DCR offers training and certification exams twice a year for those interested in becoming certified planners.

DCR also maintains a directory of private-sector certified planners who develop nutrient management plans for a variety of turfgrass and landscape management situations.

Nutrient management for homeowners

Thumbnail of Clean and Green brochure cover.Homeowners who would like to practice urban nutrient management on their lawn or landscape should contact their local Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program. Many of these programs offer plan-writing services for a small fee, and some may help with a do-it-yourself lawn program. You'll also find tips to keep your lawn green and our waterways clean in this publication.

Homeowners who want to use a lawn service company may also consider one that's joined the Green & Clean Initiative program. Companies that have signed up have committed to lawn and landscaping practices that minimize nutrient pollution in Virginia's waters, including the Chesapeake Bay. Participation in the program is voluntary.

For more information about programs listed above, Urban Nutrient Management Coordinator Anita Tuttle, anita.tuttle@dcr.virginia.gov, Cell: 804-513-5958.