Will bags of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus become a hot commodity on the black market?

It is not an issue on most people’s radar, but a bill working its way through the state Legislature could change how Michigan residents care for their lawns.

The state House passed a bill (HB 5368) to prohibit the use of fertilizer containing phosphorus unless its use is shown necessary through use of a soil test. Last week, the measure was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

"We’ve worked on it for many years,” said Rachel Hood, executive director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council. "It makes environmentally safe fertilizing a little easier; you don’t have to discern between products on the shelves.”

If passed by the Senate, Michigan would join other Great Lakes states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York and Illinois in restricting phosphorus fertilizer in some applications. Similar bans are under consideration in three other states.