Expert Tips for Watering Lawns in Minnesota
Why is proper watering important?
Most living things require water to thrive, and your grass is no exception. Proper lawn watering keeps your lawn looking lush, promotes a healthy roots system, and even helps reduce the number of weeds in your lawn. With a few basic tips, you can keep your lawn watered well and avoid pitfalls from over or under-doing it.
Ten Quick Facts for Watering Your Minnesota Lawn
- Grass needs about 1” to 1 ½“ of water per week depending on weather and location.
- Dry grass will have a blue-gray hue, the blades will wilt, and won’t bounce back when stepped on.
- Plan to water when temperatures reach 85 degrees and/or there is a dry spell.
- Water deeply and infrequently.
- Over watering leads to shallow root systems, and can drown new grass shoots.
- Water in early morning to avoid evaporation or leaving grass too wet, inviting disease.
- It’s okay to let your lawn start to go brown since it will recover quickly once watered.
- Water as needed: shady areas will need less frequent watering than sunny spots.
- Clay soil will not drain as quickly as sandy types.
- Newly planted lawns have special watering requirements.
How should I water my lawn?
In general, lawns need approximately 1” to 1½” of water per week. Our experts recommend watering grass less often and more deeply. Giving your lawn a good soaking and allowing time between waterings encourages roots to grow deeper as they seek out moisture. A robust root system allows your grass to stay greener longer and it will require less water over time.
How often should I water my lawn?
The simple answer is only water your lawn when it needs it. But we all know determining that is easier said than done! As much as possible, tailor your watering routine to fit the needs of each area of your lawn. Sunny spots will need to be watered more often than shaded areas. An automated sprinkler system that is not adjusted to water areas according to their needs, or the weather conditions can waste water, and leave grass vulnerable to disease and damage–especially if there are areas of standing water.
What are the benefits of proper lawn watering?
- Encourages deeper root growth, making grass more resilient against damage from pests, disease, and drought
- Supports a thick lawn that crowds weeds out by making it difficult for them to germinate
- Promotes efficient water use by reducing the amount of water lost through evaporation, and watering at times or in areas it is not needed
When should I start watering my lawn in Minnesota?
Depending on seasonal weather conditions, including the amount and timing of snowmelt, you can usually wait to begin watering until late spring or early summer. Avoid watering too soon, as this may stunt root growth and invite fungal disease.
Watering tips guidelines for lawns with new seed/sod/hydroseeding
- Water often: 2 to 4 times per day depending on the weather.
- Water at least 2 times per day when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.
- Water in the middle of the day for new growth as this is the most stressful time of day for seedlings.
- It’s nearly impossible to overwater new seeding or sod!
Watering tips and guidelines for an established lawn:
The following rules will help you determine if you should water your lawn:
- When temperatures exceed 85 degrees, watering is highly recommended and should be increased to avoid dormancy and browning of turf.
- In general, it is more beneficial to water less often and more deeply. This helps promote deep root growth, which, in turn, allows your grass to go longer between watering.
- Shady areas need less water than sunny areas. Likewise, low areas require less water than hills.
- Under watering leads to dormancy. It can take a week of watering to have a dormant lawn green up again.
- Water in the morning, rather than in the evening or mid-day. This allows more water to penetrate the soil and can help prevent fungal disease.
- Sprinkler systems are wonderful. Unattended sprinkler systems frequently waste water and lead to an unhealthy lawn.
- Over watering leads to shallow roots, increased thatch, and an environment that promotes fungal disease and weed growth.
- Know your soil. Clay soils need less water than sandy soils; conversely, sandy soils require more frequent watering than clay soils.
How long should my sprinklers run?
Many factors determine how much water each area of your lawn needs and how much water your sprinkler system provides per minute. As a general rule of thumb, sprinklers running approximately 30 minutes twice a week will provide about 1” of water per week.
How can I tell the difference between a dry lawn or a lawn that has gone dormant due to drought?
The first sign that a lawn is dry is wilting grass that lays flat and does not bounce back when stepped on. If the lawn continues to be dry, it will turn brown and go dormant as the plant tries to preserve itself and conserve water. The soil will also become much harder.
How can I protect a dormant lawn?
There are times when the weather and the local water supply are simply beyond your control. If environmental concerns, high water costs, or watering restrictions prevent you from watering your lawn as often as you’d like, there are simple steps you can take to save it.
- If possible, maintain a minimal watering schedule of ½” of water every 7-14 days. Your lawn will still look brown, but will have a better chance of surviving the drought.
- A dormant, drought-stressed lawn can be easily damaged, so it is best to stay off it as much as you can.
- Once the lawn begins to receive water again, it should start to green up within 14 days; some areas may need to be reseeded.
What happens if my lawn gets too much water?
Too much water can damage your lawn, or even your home’s foundation. Grass cannot grow properly in areas with standing water or spongy soil, which allows moss to develop. You may choose to re-grade your yard, amend heavy clay soil with organic matter to improve drainage, or install a rain garden or mulch bed in low spots that frequently fill with standing water.
How can I fix problems with my lawn being too wet
Thatch build-up and soil compaction are two common problems that prevent soil from draining well. Thatch can be removed with a rake or a power dethatcher. Core aeration can improve soil drainage, and allow the root system to receive nutrients more efficiently.
Environmentally Friendly Tips for Greener Lawn Watering
- Mow to a height of 2-3 inches, leaving taller grass blades to shade the soil and limit evaporation.
- Set an alarm to avoid forgetting that sprinklers are running.
- Use a sprinkler head that sprays larger droplets to avoid losing water through evaporation or wind.
- Consider seeding with a drought-tolerant lawn type.
Conserve when you can!
Both for the health of your lawn, and your water bill, we’ve got some on how to conserve water when watering your lawn. Keep automatic sprinkler systems maintained and properly set. A broken sprinkler head that shoots a stream of water into the street doesn’t do anyone any good, nor does one that runs during a rainstorm. Additionally, trees can be damaged from lawn watering that leaves their trunks wet over time or does not allow their roots to stretch out and grow between waterings.
Believe it or not
- Nearly 9 billion gallons of water are used for watering residential landscapes EVERY DAY!
- Nearly half of the water used outdoors is wasted due to inefficient watering methods.
- Using professional irrigation system installers certified by the EPA’s WaterSense program can reduce household irrigation water use by 15 percent.
Want a lawn that stands up to finicky rainfall?
Rainbow has custom blended seeding solutions to meet your goals and the conditions in your yard. Our drought tolerant lawn is a tall fescue type that produces a great-looking lawn that resists damage from dry spells. If you’re looking for even more tips for watering your lawn, schedule a consultation from one of our licensed lawn experts with us today!
For Additional Information on best watering practices for your lawn: