Why Isn’t My Grass Green? Five Problems Keeping You From Getting the Emerald Lawn You Want

Everyone who has a lawn wants it to be luxurious and green, whether the emerald green of St. Augustine grass or the gray-green of fine fescue. When patches of that lawn turn brown or the entire lawn turns the color of old straw when it should be at its most verdant, the owner can’t be blamed for panicking a bit. Fortunately, returning a lawn to its beautiful green color is doable once the owner knows the reason. Here are five of the reasons a lawn stops looking its best:

  1. Too Hot and Too Dry

When it simply gets too hot and too dry for the lawn, the grass goes dormant. This is perfectly normal, and the grass will green up again when a good, drenching rain comes, and the temperature drops. 

Still, there is some lawn maintenance the owner can do while they and their lawn wait out a drought. They should water the lawn to the depth of 1/2 inch every two weeks or so to keep it alive, and to bring the lawn back to its green color they should water to the depth of an inch every week.

  1. Shallow Watering

In order for the lawn to withstand inevitable hot and dry periods, its roots need to go deep into the soil. Shallow watering, even if it’s done every day, doesn’t encourage this, and it’s not unusual to find that the soil is dry a couple of inches down even if the lawn is watered every day.

Instead of watering every day, it’s best to water the lawn two or three times a week and to make sure the watering is deep. This may mean running the sprinkler for at least two hours. The best time to water is very early in the morning, even just before sunrise. This is because the air is still cool, and the water won’t evaporate as quickly. The lawn shouldn’t be watered at night because it stays wet for long hours. This encourages disease.

  1. Badly Applied Fertilizer

When fertilizer is applied the right way to the lawn, it is beautifully green. If one part of it is under-fertilized or not fertilized at all, eventually the grass turns pallid or yellow. If too much fertilizer has been added to the grass, it can burn and turn brown.

First, allow the lawn to heal by laying off the fertilizer for a time and watering it well. In the fall, use a spreader to apply winterizing fertilizer to ready the grass for the next spring. A spreader is an important tool because it applies fertilizer evenly and at the right spread rate.

Unfortunately, if the grass has been burnt from too much fertilizer, it’ll probably need to be dug up and re-seeded or re-sodded.

  1. Improper Mowing

Mowing grass the right way is a major part of good lawn care. If the grass is not mown correctly, it can be injured. This leads it to turn yellow or brown. 

The first rule of mowing the lawn is to make sure that the mower blade is balanced and sharp. A dull blade only crushes the grass, which traumatizes it. The second rule is to only remove 1/3 of the height of the blade, even if the grass is tall. Scalping the grass also injures it and can lead to discoloration.

  1. Pests and Diseases

The number of pests and diseases that can cause a lawn to discolor almost defy listing. Diseases include blights and gray leaf spot, and pests include the chinch bug, the crambus and grubs. Pests and diseases can usually be vanquished if the lawn is treated at the first sign of trouble.