There are two general types of fertilizer products:
- Fertilizer without pesticides that contains only plant nutrients. These don’t require special disposal.
- Fertilizers with pesticides that are labeled with words like pre-emergent, weed preventer, weed and feed, plus 2, insect control, or disease control. These products shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage. They should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Recycling & Disposal Information:
Dry, granular fertilizer that does not contain pesticides may be placed in the garbage.
Liquid fertilizer (or plant food) that doesn’t contain herbicides, pesticides or insecticides may be poured down your sink as long as it flows into a sanitary sewer and not a septic system.
Bring fertilizer with pesticides to your county's household hazardous waste collection site.
After applying fertilizer, sweep up granules from hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks to keep them out of storm sewers and nearby water. Apply the sweepings to your lawn or garden.
Before applying fertilizers on your lawn or garden, consider environmentally friendly alternatives.
- Have your soil tested to determine fertilizer needs. The University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory "Taking a Soil Sample" explains why and how to submit a soil sample for testing.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn. This reduces the need for fertilizer application during the growing season.
- Follow application instructions and don’t over apply. Excess fertilizer can burn plant roots and make the plant more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Using too much may increase the chance of fertilizer run-off.
- Choose a phosphorous-free lawn fertilizer. Fertilizer containing phosphorous has been banned from use on residential lawns in Minnesota, unless the soil has been tested and found to be deficient in phosphorous or if a new lawn is being established.
- Use the entire product, or give excess usable product to someone else to use up.
For more information on fertilizers, check out the University of Minnesota Extension’s "Characteristics of Natural and Manufactured Fertilizers for Lawns," and "Preventing Pollution Problems from Lawn and Garden Fertilizers."