Talking lawn care with U of M

People are getting back into our yards and gardens, with pent-up demand following a long winter. University of Minnesota Extension Educator Jon Trappe has tips for yards that accomplish multiple goals, including promoting pollinators, climate action and a lovely look. 
Q: Why do our yards matter? 
Trappe: For many people, their lawn is their first and most frequent point of contact with nature. The benefits of nature-based therapy can literally be found in their backyard. They’re safe, convenient and private places for children and pets. Many people enjoy working in their yard as a hobby or as a connection to the outdoor world. 
There are environmental benefits behind the turf that make up our yards. They protect surface and groundwater by serving as living filters. They grow well in suburban and urban areas that are often dominated by impervious surfaces, while helping cool these areas that tend to hold heat. Yards are incredibly efficient at storing carbon in the soil as organic matter, playing an important role as a carbon sink for greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane.  
Q: What about watering, especially if we have a dry summer?
Trappe: Many of the grasses that grow in Minnesota or the upper Midwest can get by without any extra water beyond what nature supplies. The lawn may get a little dry and the turf may get a little tannish, but this is likely the grasses going dormant. If we go more than 30 days or so without rain, consider watering to keep the lawn alive until the next rainstorm.  When the lawn is stressed from lack of water, try and stay off it to reduce stress and it should be able to bounce back just fine. If you are going to water, don’t do it by a set schedule. By watering “deeply and infrequently”, you can actually train the grass roots to go deeper into the soil. This just means that if you are going to water, it is better to do it less often but with a higher amount. If you have an irrigation system, look into using a smart controller that can adapt to local weather conditions. It will save you water and make your lawn more resilient.


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