We’ve made it to April and finally some beautiful weather! With this increase in temperatures and sunnier days, the calls have been coming in inquiring about your irrigation start up. Is now the time to start your drip and sprinklers to coax that brown lawn green?  How much should you be watering your lawn? Is it different now than in the summer? We have some answers for you that will hopefully help to save you water, money, and improve the health of your landscape! 

Our Argument for Watering Less 

  • We need to save freshwater 
  • We want you to save money 
  • Minnesota mostly has enough rainfall for lawns to survive 
  • Deepening the roots of your grass to promote better lawn health 

According to the Metropolitan Council, over 30 percent of residential water consumption goes to watering grass in the summer. That’s a lot of fresh drinking water we are putting on our lawns. As green industry professionals, we have a responsibility to our landscape to help limit the use of fresh water by helping you practice smart irrigation and ultimately save you money in the process! 

What needs to be understood is that watering beyond a plant’s need is both wasteful and expensive. We often end up over watering instead of understanding what our lawns really need. In Minnesota, most lawn can survive without much watering. We are fortunate that in most areas in our state, we receive enough annual rainfall to keep our grass alive. Though, depending on your lawn quality expectations, additional watering may be required – that’s where we come in.  

When to Start Watering? 

Starting your irrigation system may not be necessary until as late as June 

Because of the amount of rainfall Minnesota receives and our relatively short hot, dry season, supplemental irrigation is often not necessary except during June, July, and August. The rest of the year, we have more rainfall, shorter days, and cooler temperatures that result in the water soaking into your lawn and less water loss. Average lawns need about 1 inch of rain per week to remain green and the amount of rainfall we receive in the Twin Cities Metro area is very close to 1 inch every week during the growing season. 

During this time, we should be watering to wet the active root zone which can be seen in the following image as being 3-4 inches deep in our grasses. In the middle of the summer, shorter more frequent watering intervals are better so long as the lawn surface is not continually wet. This helps ensure as deep of rooting as possible. During the cooler times (spring and fall) watering can return to deeper, less frequent applications.  

How to be More Efficient with Your Watering 

  • Set your sprinklers for the early morning 
  • Water close to the ground with large water droplets 
  • Water slowly, deeply, and less frequently 
  • Make sure you have a rain sensor installed (We can help you with that!) 
  • Install an irrigation smart controller (contact us to talk about smart controllers!) to better monitor your water use 
  • Do not “set it and forget it”

Please see our graphs below showing water waste without water-saving technology vs. with it

Overall, we are trying to help your irrigation system run more efficiently, this is why we recommend against the “set it and forget it model.” Even with your basic rain sensor water gets wasted. Whether you self-maintain or hire a contractor to do it, we recommend at least 4 visits a season to adjust for changing temperatures.