Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays

Turfgrass Fertilizer Recommendations

Turf Grass Fertilizer

Through the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) Fertilizer Management Workgroup, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation developed recommendations that balance the desire for a traditional, healthy lawn with the need to significantly reduce nitrogen loads to Long Island’s waterbodies (LINAP 2019). The recommendations are the result of numerous discussions with Suffolk and Nassau Counties, and relied on information from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning, Cornell University, the University of Connecticut, and Workgroup members, and are backed by scientific studies, including the Regional Clean Water Guidelines for Fertilization of Urban Turf (NEIWPCC 2017) and Cornell University’s Best Management Practices for Golf Courses (Cornell University 2014). Recommendations includeapplications of slow-release fertilizer and no more than 1.8 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (ft2) for residential lawns and 2.7 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 ft2 for golf courses annually. To estimate groundwater loading, the LINAP estimated actual residential application rate of 1.2 pounds/nitrogen per 1,000 ft2/year and 2.7 pounds/nitrogen per 1,000 ft2/year for golf courses, based on studies of actual fertilizer application rates on Long Island. These reduced loads are being used by the Peconic Estuary Solute Transport Model in development by U.S. Geological Survey and are the rates assumed for this load reduction assessment. Annual nitrogen reduction rates are based on the difference between pre-LINAP fertilizer application rates of 2.04 pounds/nitrogen per 1,000 ft2/year and 3.89 pounds/nitrogen per 1,000 ft2/year for golf courses (Vaundry 2016) and the revised LINAP loading rate estimates. Costs represent the higher cost of slow release compared with standard fertilizer. Nitrogen removal and costs were calculated per acre.

LINAP Nitrogen Fertilizer Nitrogen Reduction Recommendations and Costs

BMP Annual Nitrogen Removal (lb/yr) Cost per AcreCost per Pound Nitrogen Removed
Residential Lawns37$74$2
Golf Course Lawns52$247$5


Cornell University, 2014. Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses. Available at:

LINAP (Long Island Nitrogen Assessment Program), 2019. Recommendations for Fertilizer Nitrogen Applications on Residential and Commercial Turfgrass. Available at:

NEIWPCC (New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission), 2017. Regional Clean Water Guidelines for Fertilization of Urban Turf. Available at:

Connect with Us

Sign up for News, Events and Information straight to your inbox.