Drought Monitor

Nine Mile Creek watershed in drought

A map showing areas of drought in Minnesota: much of Hennepin County is in severe drought as of July 13, 2023.
MN Drought map published July 13, 2023

The U.S. Drought monitor is updated weekly and published every Thursday throughout the growing season. As of July 11, 2023, areas of severe drought have expanded in much of the metro area, including parts of the Nine Mile Creek watershed. This means that creek and river flows are reduced, lake levels are low, and landscaping is stressed.

Groundwater conservation

Your city may have also imposed watering restrictions, which could include restrictions on what time of day or what day of the week you can irrigate your lawn. Even if no restrictions are present, you can take some simple actions to help reduce strain on our groundwater resources.

These steps are part of a larger article from the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District: https://rpbcwd.org/lawn-care

Steps to take during a drought: When the temperatures soar and there’s no rain in sight, your grass is going to be doing everything it can just to stay alive. During this time, the best thing you can do to help is to leave it be.

Allow your grass to go dormant.

Your lawn will turn brown in times of drought, but don’t worry – it’s essentially hibernating until conditions improve! This is a protective strategy to keep its underground roots healthy by abandoning leaf growth. Sporadic watering to try to green up a lawn again is just going to stress your lawn by bringing it in and out of dormancy. It’s better to just give your lawn about a half an inch of water every 2 weeks – enough to keep the roots alive, but not enough to pull it out of dormancy and turn green again. Read more about allowing dormancy.

Don’t fertilize a dormant lawn.

It’s a futile effort to fertilize a brown lawn to try to bring it out of dormancy – the grass roots won’t take up any of the nutrients, and you may end up feeding weeds. If you do want to fertilize, save it for the Fall.

  • Fertilizer tip: The 3-number sequence on your bag of fertilizer represent the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium nutrients in the fertilizer. Make sure the middle number is 0, or you may be contributing phosphorus runoff to our lakes and creeks. (and, it’s the law!)
Stay off of your lawn.

If your lawn is dormant, stay off of it whenever possible. Any activity will just stress your lawn further. Hold off on completing any projects such as aerating your lawn, to allow the roots to retain all the moisture they can. You don’t even need to mow, because a dormant lawn won’t be growing any taller.

You can read the full post (including what to do before or after the drought) from our partners at RPBCWD here: Lawn Care

For up-to-date drought conditions

Updated Drought Monitor: Drought Conditions Overview