So your neighbor has already raked the grass, hauled out the hoses and starting watering. Do you need to keep up with the Joneses?

Yes and no.

It should be OK to rake now, said turfgrass expert Bob Mugaas, an extension educator with the University of Minnesota.

"When you can walk across your yard and it doesn't feel soft and spongy, it's fine to rake," he said.

But water? Uh, maybe not.

"Most of our soils are still pretty moist," he said. "I don't think I'd be watering yet."

The lack of rain -- and snow -- has left us about an inch below average precipitation for March, according to Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist. But a fairly rainy fall helped bank some moisture before winter set in.

"We're very fortunate to have had a wet October," said Boulay. "It bought us time and let us get through this dry March."

And while spring is a critical time for grass, watering now may be too much of a good thing.

"The soil is already moist," said Mugaas. "If you put more water on it, it's going to get cool. Wet soils are cool soils this time of year. Because grass growth is temperature-sensitive, you could actually slow the growth of your grass."

So leave the sprinklers in the garage for now. And pray for rain -- next month.

"If we don't get any rain in April, then we'll start to worry," said Boulay.

Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087