If you’re a homeowner new to lawncare, or you’re hoping to revitalize a tired lawn you’ve been mowing for years, you may be wondering how you can create a dark green, lush lawn. What makes your grass green is surprisingly simple – a series of steps that anyone can complete on their own with minimal investment.
With proper watering, fertilization, mineral applications, and a few more steps to improve your turf, you can achieve that beautiful green lawn you’re dreaming of. But the timing of these projects will dictate your success.
In this article, I’ll go over all the things that make your grass green and healthy, when to do them, and share some tips for success.
Let’s start with the basics.
It’s important to give your lawn the right amount of water. If you give it too little, your grass will look lackluster. It’s color will be a light green or yellow, and your turfgrass will be vulnerable to disease.
Watering too much, however, can also cause problems, including fungus and disease.
One way to tell that your lawn is dehydrated and in urgent need of water is if it looks dull or even yellow or gray in color. Also, if you walk on your lawn and notice that the footprints stay for a while, that’s a signal that your lawn is desperate for hydration.
What Time Should You Water Your Lawn?
The best time to water your lawn is before 10 am. It tends to be a bit cooler (so less of the water will evaporate) and there’s less wind outside, which gives the soil more time to soak up water.
If you ever do have to water in the evening, you should do it between 4 pm and 6 pm. This still gives your grass time to dry properly before it gets dark outside.
You don’t want your lawn to be wet after dark, because this can quickly lead to fungal diseases.
How Much Water Does Your Lawn Need?
Did you know that your lawn needs only one inch of water each week? If you give the grass more water than that, you could be in for trouble.
If your lawn is well-established, you should water it until the soil is saturated 6 to 8 inches below ground. Checking this can be done pretty easily with a screwdriver.
Proper watering is especially important when your lawn is newly seeded. You should aim to keep the top inch of your soil continually moist as your seed germinates and establishes roots.
Make sure it’s not absolutely drenched, though. In general, it’s helpful to mist the area that has been newly seeded one or two times a day. If it’s very dry outside or it’s during the hot weather, you might have to do this more.
Make sure to follow the instructions provided on the bag of grass seed that you use.
Vary Your Watering by Soil Type
The type of soil you have (sandy, loamy, clay) will determine how often and how much you need to water.
- Sandy soils allow water to drain through and past the roots of your grass faster (and sandy lawns will probably need more water as a result).
- Clay soil is dense and holds water like a sponge (meaning you can usually water less).
- Loam soil puts you somewhere in the middle.
Fertilization nutrients, like nitrogen, are essential for a healthy and green lawn.
Nitrogen is one of the macronutrients that your lawn needs. It’s especially important when your lawn is young and still getting established in the ground.
Nitrogen helps your lawn’s top (leaf) growth and fuels chlorophyll production in plants. When your grass has better green top growth, the grass can get more sunlight, which is used for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the way plants generate their own food and helps them grow faster.
It’s best to fertilize your lawn twice a year at a minimum (once in the spring and again in the fall). I fertilize four times a year, and the schedule you follow for your grass will depend upon where you live.
Fertilizing your lawn in the fall is important, and it’s the application most people skip, thinking that it’s just wasted product before winter. But you want your lawn to have nutrients in the winter, even when it’s dormant.
This will help with root growth and make sure that it has a good store of energy for the next spring.
Supplement Iron, When Necessary
Contrary to what some will tell you, your grass doesn’t need all that much iron.
It is a micronutrient for your lawn, and grass with an iron deficiency will take on a light green, yellow, or even whitish hue.
Iron helps to support nitrogen’s functions in the plant, assisting with chlorophyll and nutrient production. When you apply Iron to your lawn, it can help your lawn take on a darker green color.
Conducting a soil test will tell you if your lawn has an iron deficiency. Don’t apply iron if it isn’t absolutely necessary. Applying too much iron when it isn’t needed causes problems, and could even turn your grass gray.
Also carefully read the instructions on the iron supplement you choose. Some iron supplements can stain concrete with a rusty orange color, so you should keep it away from your driveway and walkways.
Don’t Underestimate Aeration
If you want a beautiful green lawn, I recommend that you aerate your turf at least once every other year.
Lawn aeration helps to deal with the problem of compacted soil and allows more nutrients, oxygen, and water to get into your lawn to the roots of your grass. With core aeration, a core aerator removes plugs of soil from the earth that are then left on top of the grass, where they’ll quickly break down.
Soil tends to get compacted over time, especially when there is a lot of foot traffic on your lawn. Compacted soil prevents water and nutrients from getting to your grass roots. Grasses have a difficult time thriving in those conditions (picture it gasping for air, water, and nutrients).
You can rent lawn aeration equipment from lawn care centers or box stores nearby. Hiring a landscaper to aerate your lawn might not be much more expensive than renting it, however. And for many people it’s a good option that saves some labor and buys you back part of your weekend.
When you start aerating your lawn with regularity, you will notice an enormous difference in how your grass responds to water and nutrients. Over time you will have a much greener lawn, because all of the other products you use and maintenance you do will have a more immediate and lasting impact.
Choose the Right Grass Seed
Different types of grass have different characteristics, requirements, and shades of green.
If you want an especially dark shade of green, try to find a grass seed that has a deep green color as one of its characteristics.
For example, Kentucky Bluegrass is known for having a dark blue-green color, and it’s a great choice for northern lawns. Centipede grass performs well in the Southeastern US, but even in ideal conditions it stays a lighter shade of green than many other options.
Of course, when choosing a grass seed, get one that is appropriate for your region and climate.
If you’re in a northern part of the United States, you will probably need a cool-season grass variety. In the southern states, warm-season grasses are usually most appropriate.
Get Ready for the Green Lawn of Your Dreams
With some simple steps, it can be easy to have a beautiful green lawn. You need to know what to do, and when to do it. Also, make sure to follow the application rate instructions on any products you use on your yard.
Be consistent in how you care for your lawn and stay on top of all the necessary maintenance. Perform a soil test every spring to gauge where your soil is and what you need to offer your lawn to help it thrive.