By Heather Brown

Editor’s Note: This was originally published in June of 2017.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We love our green lawns in Minnesota. According to a survey from the Metropolitan Council, more than 40 percent of people with sprinkler systems in the metro area water their lawns every other day.

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So, when should you water? Good Question.

There’s a giant moveable canopy at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.  At the first sign of rain, it automatically moves to cover patches of thirty different kinds of grass.  Grass experts are using the canopy to mimic 60 days of drought. The idea is to see which grasses (all available at local stores) do the best under drought-stressed environments.

“We’re two weeks into the drought trial,” says Sam Bauer, a UMN Extension turf grass expert. “After 60 days, our Kentucky blue grass, our perennial rye grass will have been turned off-color. The fescues tend to tolerate drier conditions a lot better.”

Bauer says there a lot of potential money and water savings that he’s studying. He also points out there are plenty of similar savings when it comes to how often and what time of day people water their lawns.

“At maximum, you need to irrigate maybe once per week if we get into dry type of situations,” he says.

Bauer says once a week for most properties will keep a lawn green. For lawns that are higher maintenance due to poor soil or lower organic matter, he suggests twice a week.

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The rule of thumb is lawns need one inch of water per week.  In the Twin Cities metro area, average rainfall is four inches per month during June, July and August.

The Metropolitan Council found that when people do water, they most often (60 percent) do it in the morning. Only 2 percent report during the day and 8 percent say when it’s convenient.  Almost 30 percent of people responded they water at night.

“Time of day for watering a lawn is a big thing,” says Bauer. “You don’t want to water at night because then your lawn sits there wet all night.”

He says that causes the potential for more moss you can get more moss, different types of weeds, more algae and maybe even some diseases.

He doesn’t recommend the middle of the day because the sun and wind cause evaporation.

Bauer’s ideal time is between four and seven in the morning. Even more specifically, his preferred time is 6 a.m. because most people are up at that time and can keep an eye on the sprinkler system for leaks or problems.

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“The nice thing about lawns is that you can wait until it gets dry, water it and then it usually recovers very well,” he says.

Heather Brown