A beautiful, healthy lawn not only is an asset to your home and neighborhood, but also helps the environment and water quality. Thick grass helps contain soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and helps clean the air by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
Here are easy tips to enhance your yard's appearance in an environmentally-friendly way.
Other types of lawns that need less mowing and watering may work better with your soil conditions. Fine-fescue lawns have deeper roots (up to 9") than typical lawns (1" - 3"). Fescues' dense growth crowds out weeds, and their slow growth means you can mow less often. In the fall, when it's cool and rains support germination, you can overseed an existing lawn or start from scratch. Fescues do well in sunny or shady areas, but not with heavy foot-traffic and compacted soils. You may also consider yarrow or low-growing clovers, which are best established from seed. You can mow these plants infrequently and shouldn't have to irrigate after the lawn is established. Try experimenting with one of these alternative lawn types in a small portion of your yard.
One of the Dakota SWCD’s programs for Dakota County residents is the Landscaping for Clean Water program which includes free educational classes, garden design courses, a shoreline and garden maintenance workshop, and grants for homeowners that install a rain garden, native garden, or native shoreline planting. The goal of the Landscaping for Clean Water program is to teach residents how to beautify their yards while also protecting local water quality and providing habitat for pollinators.
Keeping your grass long leads to a stronger, healthier lawn with fewer problems. Grass grows deeper when lawns are about 3" versus 1". Deep roots increase drought tolerance, decrease soil compaction, and reduce moisture loss. Healthy lawns can restrict dandelions and other weeds. Plus, as mowing height increases, maintenance needs decrease.
Mowing when it's hottest and driest is the poorest time to cut your lawn. This is because newly cut grass loses water quickly. Instead, looking at the forecast and trying to mow before it rains is the best. It's also not a good idea to mow during extended dry periods or before predicted droughts.
Sharp mower blades help prevent tearing or injuring the grass. Using a sharp mulching blade finely chops the grass clippings. Mulched grass clippings are free, recycled fertilizer that builds organic content and improves moisture retention in the soil.
Many Eagan lawns have compacted soils, which limit deep roots, prevent water soaking into the ground, and make lawns susceptible to drought. If your yard is compacted, consider aerating it. Aeration is the process of loosening lawn soils by pulling plugs out of the yard. This increases water, nutrients, and oxygen getting to turf roots. To test if you should aerate, push a stiff wire (like a wire utility flag) into the lawn. If it easily goes in 3 or more inches, you do not have compacted soil and do not need to aerate.
Local garden centers or hardware stores typically have "core-plug" aerators for rent, or you can hire a lawn service to do the work. Generally, the best times to aerate in Eagan are the month of September or early May through mid June.
Compost contains organic matter that supports healthy lawns. You will improve your yard's health by leaving on the lawn (not bagging) your mulched grass clippings. Also consider purchasing and spreading 1/4" of well-aged leaf compost on your yard after you aerate.
Although most Eagan lawns have enough phosphorus for turf grass, but you can test your yard by
MN Stats. Ch. 18C prohibits using lawn fertilizer with phosphorus, with few exceptions, and prohibits spilling fertilizers on impervious surfaces, such as driveways or streets. Eagan City Code Sec. 7.05 prohibits putting grass, leaves, and other debris onto streets. To protect lake water quality and wetlands, mow and sweep clippings away from your driveway or street, keeping these materials from washing into the storm sewer system when it rains.