The lawn and the short of it


An early spring, and homeowners eager to celebrate it, has landscapers and their equipment out in force, waking the cicadas. 

To better serve its citizens and preserve our environment’s resources, both Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven have enacted rules for lawn maintenance. Suffolk County Law 41-2007 aims to curb nitrogen pollution of ground and surface waterways through misuse of lawn fertilizers.  Brookhaven Town eCode360 addresses noise control.

Suffolk County executive Edward P. Romaine’s office has distributed “Healthy Lawns/Clean Water,” an informative pamphlet that identifies ways to conserve both our money and our environment through informed, best practices applicable to both homeowners and the lawn-care workers who serve them.

In Suffolk County, fertilizer applications to lawns are prohibited between Nov. 1 and April 1; violators face fines of $1,000.  Stressing that “timing is everything,” the pamphlet includes tips for sowing, mowing, and nourishing lawns that help homeowners achieve better outcomes.

Homeowners are reminded to make sure the landscapers they hire are certified to work in Suffolk County, where licensing requirements include completion of a county-approved turf management course.

You can check your landscaper’s credentials at the Consumer Affairs Office (631) 853-4600.

Landscapers who want more information about the course, or about the Nitrogen Fertilizer Reduction Initiative, may visit

High nitrogen levels contribute to algal blooms, brown tides, and shellfish destruction in our waters. At a 2022 “State of the Bays” presentation at SUNY Stony Brook, Dr. Chris Gobler, a marine biologist, announced that he and his team had discovered two new species of harmful algae in the Long Island Sound, increasing the total number of species present to eight.  He stressed that hot summer temperatures can intensify the threat they pose to water quality and marine life. In 2021, for example, Long Island’s bay scallop industry crashed for the third consecutive year as a result of nitrogen pollution.

Some algae are harmful to people and pets as well.

More information on current best practices for lawns in our area is available through Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk,, and guidelines for better watering at

Noise pollution, another lawn care by-product, is also regulated in Brookhaven Town under eCode360: NOISE CONTROL.

Commercial and residential lawn mowing is prohibited before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m., Monday through Friday and before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on weekends and legal holidays. Noise from mowers, leaf blowers, and other equipment must not exceed 85 dBA at any real property line of a residential property.

Brookhaven Town Code defines noise disturbance as any sound that:

  • Endangers the safety or health of any person
  • Disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities
  • Endangers personal or real property

More information is available at Town of Brookhaven, N Y/The Code Chapter 50 NOISE CONTROL.  To request assistance or file a complaint contact Brookhaven Town Code Enforcement (631) 451-6161.


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