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Good Question: Should We Still Water Our Lawn?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a rough year to be a blade of Minnesota grass. The severe lack of rain has led to a severe lack of green. Now that the nights are heading below freezing, should we still be watering our lawn?

Curt Myrom’s lawn stands out in St. Michael, Minn., an island of green surrounded by a sea of brown.

“I dump water on it,” said Myrom, who’s retired and obsessed with his lawn.

While water keeps Myom’s lawn looking great, many of us gave up a long time ago.

Or we’re being forced to give up by the late-fall sprinkler system blowout.

“We do this seven days a week; we have three air compressors going seven days a week,” said John Maeyaert, owner of Sunshine Irrigation in Corcoran.

In a normal year, Maeyaert said, “If you can get a good fall fertilizer down, water it in, you’re ready to shut it down by first or second week of October.”

But this year’s drought has a lot of us nervous to stop watering.

“What I’m recommending to those who are dormant, you have two to three weeks to recover some life, some growth,” said Sam Bauer, service turf expert with the University of Minnesota Extension.

“We most certainly can regenerate some growth,” Bauer said. “The idea, the key is to get a little greenness back before going into the winter.”

Most years, the lawn turns brown and goes dormant for a period of time. But that’s generally in June or July. We bounce back after rain.

“Usually September is a great month for growing grass,” Bauer said. “We’re going from dormancy drought into dormancy from cold … If we go into winter with a drought dormant turf, and going into winter dormancy, it’s going to be a serious problem.”

Bauer said different lawns may have different outcomes.

“It depends on the species; Kentucky bluegrass will fare better than perennial rye grass, or fescues,” he said.

His advice: “If you’re brown, two more weeks of watering, then fertilize.”

If you’re green, you’re probably OK if we get rain this weekend. But if there’s a warm-up in the end of October or early November, rain may be needed.

Of course, if you do water, you still may not be able to revive your lawn after this summer.

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