Dear Town of Barnstable Property Owner:

Excessive nutrient enrichment of the region’s groundwater and waterbodies, caused by improper or excessive applications of fertilizer, may result in significant public health ramifications. Some of these ramifications include detrimental effects on drinking water sources by increased concentrations of nitrates. This can have a negative impact on economic, environmental, and recreational resources and values in the Town and region.

We would like to remind all property owners about the provisions of the Town’s Fertilizer Nitrogen and Phosphorous Control Regulations, identified as Chapter 78 of the Town of Barnstable Code. This Chapter may be viewed at this link:

Everyone is reminded of the following dos and don’ts:

• Don’t apply fertilizer during or immediately prior to heavy rainfall;
• Don’t apply fertilizer or compost between November 12 and the following March 31;
• Don’t apply, spill, or deposit fertilizer onto any impervious surfaces;
• Don’t apply, spill, or deposit fertilizer in a manner that allows fertilizer to enter any storm drains;
• Don’t apply fertilizer that contains phosphorous, unless a soil test was taken not more than 3 years prior, which indicates phosphorous is needed for growth of that turf, or unless establishing a new turf, reestablishing turf, or repairing turf after substantial damage or land disturbance; and
• Don’t deposit grass clippings, leaves or any other vegetative debris into or within 50 feet of water bodies, retention areas, drainage ditches, stormwater drains, or onto impervious surfaces.

• Do ensure a single application of fertilizer that contains nitrogen does not exceed 1.0 pounds of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet;
• Do ensure single application of fertilizer shall consist of at least 20% slow-release nitrogen; and do ensure the annual application rate of fertilizer does not exceed 3.2 pounds of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet.

Failure to comply with these provisions of Section 78 may result in an order for a citizen to obtain fertilizer application certification and/or may result in the issuance of $300 non-criminal ticket citations for each violation.

Any noncertified fertilizer applicator may apply to the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension for fertilizer certification as a certified fertilizer applicator. All certified fertilizer applicators shall manage turf and apply fertilizer to turf in accordance with Best Management Practices (BMP) for Soil and Nutrient Management in Turf Systems, prepared by the University of Massachusetts Extension, Center for Agriculture Turf Program in effect on September 18, 2014

This letter shall serve as a reminder to all citizens about the Town’s Fertilizer Nitrogen and Phosphorous Control Regulations in an effort to prevent further declines in the quality of our groundwater and waterbodies. By working together, we will be able to begin to restore the health of our aquatic ecosystems that are so important to our quality of life here in Barnstable

If you should have any questions, please feel free to call the Health Division Office at 508 862-4644.


Mark S. Ells
Town Manager