Green Lawn and Water Conservation Practices
Protecting Our Water: Best practices, programs, funding, ordinances, and more
One way to help protect our lakes and wetlands is through a raingarden. Raingardens are shallow depressions that collect and absorb stormwater from roofs, driveways, compacted lawns, etc. This is important because a typical Eagan home and yard may shed 7,000 gallons of water during a 1" rain storm. Every home has an impact on stormwater runoff. Planted with shrubs and perennials, raingardens infiltrate water into the ground. Raingardens can also provide habitat for pollinators.
Rain harvesting can be accomplished by using a rain barrel. Rain barrels lower the impacts to our lakes and wetlands by reducing stormwater entering the drainage system. The water in rain barrels can be used to nourish plants during dry spells.
Properly functioning irrigation systems can save lots of water, even small leaks may waste hundreds or thousands of gallons of water. A healthy lawn will be okay with 1" of water per week (via rain or irrigation). Measure rain with a simple gauge or your irrigation with a small container on the ground. Water in the early morning or late evening and when it's not windy. Avoid watering between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to reduce loss by evaporation.
There are lots of ways to keep your lawn healthy while being green - raise mower blade height, consider the weather before mowing, keep mower blades sharp, aerate, top-dress with compost, consider alternatives to turf grass, and don't fertilize with phosphorus.
Composting yard waste is a great way to reduce your footprint. Yard waste cannot go in the trash. Instead, bring yard waste to a local compost site or call your garbage hauler to schedule a curbside pick-up. Get more information and tips about backyard composting from our recycling staff at Dakota Valley Recycling.
Salt is a pollutant that ends up in lakes and wetlands. Currently, there are 21 lakes, 22 streams, and 4 wetlands in Minnesota with unacceptable levels of chloride (the chemical found in common road and driveway salt that can harm aquatic life). Thankfully none of Eagan’s waterbodies are in this group. Adopting good practices now can help fight against salt pollution and future harm to lakes and fish. Be SMART when using salt on your driveway and sidewalks:
- Shovel snow from walks and driveways before it gets compacted and turns to ice. This will reduce the salt needed to clear away ice later.
- Moderation. More salt does not mean more melting. An average driveway (1,000 sq. ft.) only needs four 12 oz. cups of salt.
- Apply less. Any excess salt can wash down storm drains to lakes and ponds, harming fish and plant life or polluting groundwater.
- Reuse. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement, it is no longer doing its job and will be washed away. Sweep it up and reuse it next time it snows.
- Temperature affects how salt works. Most deicing products do not work when it's below 15° F. Try using small amounts of sand to reduce slipping. Again, sweep this up when pavement dries.
Every Eagan plow driver is trained to use less salt and apply deicers wisely. The goal is to provide the safest roads and trails we can, using the least chemical treatments possible. Their equipment helps in the battle as application technology can monitor the amounts of salt or brine being applied. This is based on the current road temperature, the truck speed and other factors.
Every spring, experts from Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District teach Landscaping for Clean Water workshops. These sessions help you learn how native plants and raingardens in yards can help keep our surface waters clean. As an attendee, you receive assistance in designing a raingarden, plus you are eligible for financial incentives that could help fund your project.
If you’re interested in pollinator-friendly lawns, help your lawn bee the change through the Board of Water and Soil Resources’ Lawn to Legume program. General information is also available in the pollinator’s toolkit.
Residents can have their irrigation system tested and even have a more efficient system installed through the Safe Water Commission.
Businesses or residents interested in being good water stewards can get SMART salting certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Water Resources Ordinances & Regulations
Learn more about water resource ordinances and regulations.