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Bush Lake Chapter

Izaak Walton League of America

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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).  Dremel lawn blade sharpening attachment.

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 $22 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" or "Eco-Grass Mix")

Minnesota Bee Lawn Mix (with Fine-Fescues) - (aka MNL Bee Lawn 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)

Downspout Diverter (EarthMinded 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

Local Lawn Contractors that specialize in organic lawn care and Fine-Fescue Lawn installation:

Organic Bob: https://organicbob.com/

Organic Lawns by Lunseth: https://www.organiclawnsbylunseth.com/

Top Indoor Water Saving Tips:

1. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Toilet(s):

- older toilets can use 3-5 gallons per flush;

- new high-efficiency toilets can use 0.8 – 1.28 gallons per flush;

- can reduce water used for toilets by 60-80%

= avg. family of four could save 20,000 – 28,000 gallons per year

2. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Clothes Washer:

- older clothes washers can use 40 gallons per load;

- new high-efficiency clothes washers use 14-25 gallons per load;

- can reduce water used for clothes washing by 38-65%

= avg. family of four could save 4,500 – 7,800 gallons per year

- can also reduce electricity use

3. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Shower Head:

- older shower heads can use 2.5 - 5.5 gallons per minute;

- new high-efficiency shower heads can use 1.25 -1.5 gallons per minute;

- can reduce water used for showers by 70-75%

= avg. family of four could save 4,000 – 37,000* gallons per year

            (* varies if you currently have a 2.5 or 5.5 gpm shower head)

            - can determine by measuring with gallon bucket and stop-watch

- can also reduce electricity or natural gas use (for water heater)

4. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Dish Washer:

- older dishwashers can use 10-16 gallons per wash cycle;

- new high-efficiency dishwashers use 3 – 5 gallons per wash cycle.

- can reduce water used for washing dishes by 50-80%

= avg. family of four could save 550 – 1,320 gallons per year

- can also reduce electricity use 

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