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Tips for your yard

Water-Smart Landscaping:
  • Use Water Wisely  - to absorb rain and runoff
  • Build Good Soil   - to help roots grow and rain soak in
  • Select Proper Plants  - to thrive in your yard's conditions


1. Raise the Mow Height to 3"+ to encourage deeper rooting of turf grass.

2. Keep your mower blade(s) SHARP for clean cuts (to reduce grass blade tearing/excessive moisture loss).  Use a mulching blade/don't bag the clippings (leave the fine clippings lay on the lawn).

3. Reduce Soil Compaction:

Test for shallow soil compaction with a sturdy wire (e.g. utility locate flag). If you can't push the sturdy wire into the lawn's topsoil more than a 3" depth, you probably have compacted soils (make sure you're not just hitting rocks or tree roots).  

Core-plug aeration can help alleviate compaction up to 3" depth.  Best time to aerate is in the fall (September).

4. Build Soil Health:

Check out your Soil by taking soil samples.

Send Soil Samples into a Soils Lab for Analysis/Recommendations:

U of M Soil Testing Lab (includes sampling instructions): 

Goal for Organic Matter Content % is from 5-8%
For help in interpreting your results, send us an email (and include your results) at bushlake@bushlakeikes.org
If your soil needs more Organic Matter, a good local source is The Mulch Store (have bulk or bagged Well-aged Leaf Compost).  The Mulch Store's Burnsville Bulk Materials Yard is west of I-35W & Cliff Road, near the landfill. 1 cubic yard of compost costs around $20 from The Mulch Store.
Well-aged Compost can be top-dressed onto your existing lawn at a 1/8"-1/4" depth in the fall.  For new/renovated lawn projects, compost can be incorporated into the soil prior to seeding.

5. Consider Alternative Lawn Plants:

Fine-Fescue Grass Mix (aka "No-Mow Mix")

6. Use Water Wisely when Irrigating:

Fix Leaks - small leaks can waste thousands of gallons.  Inspect and repair your irrigation system regularly or hire a professional to inspect leaks and conduct an "irrigation audit" to make sure you are watering effectively.

Don't Water the Street: Adjust nozzles to spray only the lawn.  For hard to water areas, consider planting something else that doesn't need irrigation.

Don't Water in the Rain:  a "rain sensor" signals irrigation controller to turn off when it's actively raining.  A "soil moisture sensor" keeps the irrigation controller off if the soil is wet.  A "Smart Irrigation Controller" is connected to wi-fi to receive local weather information to determine if it has recently rained or if rain is expected.  A "Smart" controller can save approximately 50% of water compared to an old style controller.

Some "Smart" Irrigation Controllers:

Rachio 3 Smart Water System (8-16 zone):  


Rain Bird ST8-WIFI (8 zone): 


Orbit b-hyve WiFi Timer (6-12 zones): 

RainMachine Touch HD (12-16 zones):

7.  Harvest Rooftop Rainwater:

Downspout Diverter (Fiskars brand)

High-Flow Spigot (RainReserve brand)

Rain Barrels (Recycle Minnesota Annual Sale - $74 each

Rain Barrels (Menards - often have sales in June)

Rain Barrels (Craigslist search)


Water-Smart Landscaping Tips Sheet (2-page pdf) 

Questions?  Email Gregg at bushlake@bushlakeikes.org



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