Fertilizer: Turf Fertilizer

Fertilizer Retailers Including Garden Centers, Hardware Stores, Home Improvement & Discount Stores

Turf Fertilizer Restrictions: Fertilizer retailers

Beginning April 1, 2010, fertilizer that is labeled as containing phosphorus or available phosphate cannot be applied to lawns or turf in Wisconsin unless the fertilizer application qualifies under certain exemptions.

Brochure: Fertilizer Retailers: Restriction on Sale, Use and Display of Turf Fertilizer - 2 page PDF


The law was signed by Governor Doyle in April 2009 and the bill, 2009 Wisconsin Act 9 modified Chapter 94, Wisconsin Statutes. The intent of the law is to provide protection to Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers, streams and other water resources from phosphorus run-off.

Affected Parties

The new law that restricts the use, sale and display of turf fertilizer labeled as containing phosphorus or available phosphate, will affect fertilizer retailers including garden centers, hardware stores, home improvement centers and discount stores municipalities as well as a number of other groups including:

Specific Regulatory Language

Chapter 94, Wisconsin Statutes, Plant Industry – 34 page PDF
The specific changes are found in Ch. 94.643.

Sales Restrictions

No one may sell turf fertilizer at retail that is labeled as containing phosphorus or available phosphate if the person knows that the purchaser intends to use the fertilizer for a purpose other than one of the following:

  • The purchaser is establishing grass either by seed or sod, during the growing season in which the purchaser began establishing the grass.
  • The purchaser is applying the fertilizer to an area that is deficient in phosphorus as shown by a soil test performed by a laboratory no more than 36 months before the application.
  • For application to a pasture, land used to grow grass for sod or any other land used for agricultural production.

Display Restrictions

  • Anyone who sells fertilizer at retail may not display turf fertilizer that is labeled as containing phosphorus or available phosphate. In other words, keep it off your sales floor.
  • However, a fertilizer retailer may post a sign advising customers that turf fertilizer containing phosphorus or available phosphate is available upon request for uses listed above (establishing grass or a lab test shows phosphorus deficiencies in the lawn or the product will be used for agricultural production.)


  • Any one who violates regulations on the sale or display of fertilizer containing phosphorus or available phosphate may be required to pay a penalty of not more than $50 for a first violation and not less than $200 nor more than $500 for a second or subsequent violation.

For more information on the turf fertilizer law, see the specific sections listed above or contact Charlene Khazae, fertilizer program manager, 608-224-4541.