Turf and Low Maintenance Options

The City of Eagan would like to provide multiple options for yard establishment and maintenance. The following handout is written only as a guide; it is not intended not be a complete set of requirements. If you have specific questions about the establishment or maintenance of your yard, please call one of the contacts listed below.

Established Yard Options

All disturbed areas of private property not occupied by buildings, parking or storage areas shall have a form of vegetation established or be designed in a way to prevent erosion. Property owners may choose to maintain a turf grass and/or another form of established vegetation, including native landscaping, edible landscaping or rain gardens.

Turf Grass

Turf grasses are commercially available cultured grass plant varieties, including bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass blends that are commonly used in regularly cut lawn areas. Different types of turf grasses have different characteristics and root depths. For example, fine fescue lawns have deeper roots up to 9” in depth, compared to the 1-3” depth of many bluegrass blends.

No permit is required to install turf grass in yards or the public right-of-way, but care needs to be taken to control erosion until such time as the turf is established and taken root. In most residential lots, the public right-of-way is the portion of the yard extending 13-15 feet back from the curb (reference Page 5 for additional information about the right-of-way).

Native Landscaping

Native plants are those that grew in Minnesota prior to European settlement. Native landscaping can range from using native plants for their decorative value in a flower bed to restoring natural plant communities such as prairies or oak savanna. As compared to turf grass and non-native ornamental plants, native vegetation requires less irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides.

When homeowners use native vegetation rather than turf grass, less irrigation water, fertilizers and chemicals are used, reducing runoff into lakes, streams and rivers. Native vegetation also provides food and habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

A Right-of-Way Permit and staff review are required for the installation of landscaping other than turf grass in the right-of-way of your property.

Edible Landscaping

Edible landscaping refers the incorporation of fruit and vegetable producing plants into landscape in an attractive manner, appropriate for the front and back yard. Encouraging individuals to grow fruits and vegetables in their yards increases local food security, ensures access to healthy foods and reduces unnecessary transportation of foods.

Zoning Permits are required for the installation of fences, raised garden beds and other structures in the yard. Right-Of-Way Permits are required for any work in the right-of-way on your property.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are designed to collect and infiltrate storm water that runs off of roofs and pavement, preventing it from entering the storm sewer system and polluting lakes, streams and rivers. Rain gardens consist of shallow depressions with loosened sub-soils, planted with native plants, garden perennials and/or shrubs that are adapted to moist conditions and that have deep roots to help storm water seep into the ground quickly. Encouraging homeowners to construct rain gardens is an important way for a community to protect surface water resources and recharge ground water.

The installation of a rain garden may require a Right-Of-Way Permit. Contact Eagan Water Resources at (651) 675-5300 for additional information about design and installation of a rain gardens.

Trees

Trees are an important part of a property and the community and choosing a tree for long-term landscape requires careful planning. Property owners should select tree species that are suitable to specific site conditions.

Recommended Tree Species

University of Minnesota Extension recommended trees (list includes size, shape, fall color, streets/under utility lines, strengths, sensitivities, flower, fruit, and other information) for deciduous (hardwood) and conifer trees.

  • Oak species, including bur, white, bi-color, pin and northern red
  • Hackberry
  • Maple species including red, Norway and sugar
  • Honeylocust
  • Kentucky coffee tree
  • Disease-resistant elms
  • Gingko (male only)
  • Ohio Buckeye
  • Crabapple
  • Japanese Tree Lilac

Prohibited Tree Species

It is unlawful to plant on any lot or land parcel any tree or seed that is a prohibited species where such trees are not naturally occurring. Prohibited species are defined as the following trees:

  • Ginkgo (female only)
  • Box elder
  • Non-disease-resistant elm species
  • Non-hybrid cottonwood species

Planting Suggestions

  • With Minnesota weather, trees should be both winter-hardy and tolerant of summer heat and drought conditions
  • Plant several species of tree to avoid large-scale tree loss from future disease or pests
  • Assess above-ground structures that may interfere with tree growth and review proposed new tree locations for potential sight-line issues

Required Permits

  • The planting of trees in the boulevard or public right-of-way is discouraged due to the presence of utilities, fiber optic cables etc.
  • The boulevard is the area behind the curb extending inward to meet the property line and is dedicated or otherwise conveyed to the city for general public use and management. 
  • Contact Forestry at (651) 675-5300 for additional information.

Smart Watering

With watering of any type of vegetation, it is important to take steps that best use the water we have available.

Lawn Soils

Tight soils limit deep growth of roots, prevent water from soaking into the ground, and make lawns susceptible to drought stress. A “core-plug” aerator effectively loosens compacted lawn soils. Self-propelled aerators may be rented from a lawn service company. Fall is the best time for this work. Prior to aeration, locate buried wires and irrigation heads.

During aeration, top-dress your lawn with ¼” well-aged and weed-seed free compost. This builds healthy soils by adding organic matter.

A simple test determines if your lawn needs aeration. Push a wire stake flag into the ground when moist, but not soaked or parched. If you can push in 12” or more, you do not have a compaction problem. If only 1” to 2”, your lawn needs aeration. You many use a leftover flag from a utility locate service or contact the Eagan Maintenance Facility or City Hall.

Mowing

Grass roots grow deeper when your lawn is mowed at higher lengths. Deep roots help increase drought tolerance and decrease soil compaction. Such lawns also help restrict dandelion and other weed growth.

For a healthy lawn, use a sharp mulching blade. Mulched grass clippings are free, recycled fertilizer and are also good for soil moisture retention. To protect lake water quality and wetlands, mow and sweep clippings away from your driveway or street, keeping these materials from washing into the storm sewer system when it rains. Eagan City Code prohibits putting grass, leaves and other debris into streets.

Irrigation

When watering the lawn during the hottest part of the day, you may lose 50% of irrigation water to evaporation. Small leaks may add up to hundreds or thousands of gallons of wasted water. Inspect your watering system or hire a professional for an irrigation audit.

Adjust spray heads to water your lawn – not the street, driveway or sidewalk. For hard-to-water areas, consider planting something else in the place of traditional turf grass.

Watering Suggestions

  • One inch of water per week (via rain or irrigation) is adequate. Rain may be measured with an accurate rain gauge and irrigation may be measured using a small container.
  • Avoid watering between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to reduce moisture loss by evaporation. It is better to water in the early morning or late evening.
  • Avoid watering on windy days, to reduce water loss.
  • Avoid over-watering, which may cause shallow roots, lawn disease and stress. Soil moisture may be determined with a moisture meter.

Required Permits

  • A Plumbing Permit is required for the installation of an underground sprinkler system.
  • A Right-of-Way Permit is required for the installation of sprinkler heads in the public right-of-way.

Rain Barrels

The collection of runoff rainwater benefits Eagan water bodies and allows useable, free water for homeowners. Rain barrel water may be used to nourish plants during dry spells or water one’s lawn. It is best to drain rain barrels regularly to eliminate stagnation and make room for future capacity.

Rain barrel information is available through Eagan Water Resources at (651) 675-5300.

Yard Maintenance 

The City of Eagan encourages property owners to plant and maintain vegetation that adds diversity but prohibits unmanaged growth and noxious weeds.

Tall Vegetation

All turfgrass shall not exceed a height of eight inches, as measured from the base at ground level to the tip of each stalk, stem, blade or leaf. Permitted vegetation other than turf grass that naturally exceeds 8” in height is permitted if maintained appropriately for the cultivar type.

Vegetation within the right-of-way (boulevard area) shall not exceed a height of 8 inches, without approval through a Landscaping in the Right-of-Way Permit. It is the responsibility of the abutting property owner to maintain the boulevard area turf grass or other permitted vegetation to the curb line.

Noxious Weeds

Owners must provide regular weeding, pruning, and maintenance of all plantings located on their property. Minnesota State Statute dictates that property owners must eradicate all noxious weeds on land they own, occupy, or are required to maintain. An extensive list of noxious weeds is maintained yearly by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Dandelions are not considered noxious weeds and are not required to be removed.

Diseased Vegetation

Plant materials that exhibit evidence of pests, disease or damage shall be appropriately treated and dead plants shall be removed and/or replaced.

Landscaping in the Public Right-of-Way

There are specific restrictions regarding landscaping near or within a public Right-Of-Way. In most residential lots, the right-of-way extends 13-15 feet back from the curb. Although lawn areas usually extend all the way to the curb line and are subsequently maintained by the property owner, the boulevard is public and reserved primarily for the installation of public utilities, snow storage, and mailboxes.

  • Permits are required prior to the installation of any landscaping in the right-of-way.
  • The construction of any structure in the right-of-way is not allowed, with the exception of mailboxes.
  • The City reserves the right to trim and/or remove any landscaping or trees within or overhanging the right-of-way that may interfere with visibility, maintenance operations, or passage on public trails or walks within the right-of-way.
  • Compliance with relevant ordinances helps eliminate potential liability associated with damages that may occur from unauthorized installation within public right-of-way.

Contact Eagan Engineering at (651) 675-5646 to determine the width of the boulevard easement, property line locations, specifications for the installation of mailboxes, and “clear zone standards” related to visual and physical obstructions within boulevard areas. The City does not locate property corners or property lines for private property owners.

Helpful Contacts

Engineering
Right-of-Way Permits, Setbacks
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(651) 675-5646

Planning & Zoning
Zoning Permits, Raised Gardens, Fences
(651) 675-5685

Eagan Water Resources
Rain Gardens, Rain Barrels, Smart Watering
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(651) 675-5646

Eagan Forestry
Shade Tree Management, Natural Resources Management, Licensed Tree Care Contractors
(651) 675-5300

Gopher State One Call
Utility locations
(651) 454-0002

Building Inspections
Plumbing Permits, Retaining Walls
(651) 675-5675

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