What Makes Your Grass Green

What Makes Your Grass Green?

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.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

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.

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Proper Watering

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.

How Proper Watering Makes Grass Green

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.

How to Green Up Your Grass

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.

Fertilizer Application

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.

Applying Fertilizer to Make Grass Green

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.

How Iron Application Can Make Grass Green

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. Experts like certified horticulturist Nicole Forsyth say that the “best practice is annually, sometimes biennially when there is super heavy foot traffic.”

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.

How Regular Aeration Can Make Your Lawn Grass Green

Nicole Forsyth adds that how often you aerate “also depends on methods — core aeration is done less frequently than spike aeration.”

You can read about the difference between these aeration methods in my article on the subject.

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.

Choose the Right Type of Grass for Your Climate - Using the Right Seed Can Help Create a Greener Lawn

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.

What is it that Makes Grass Green

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.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

4 thoughts on “What Makes Your Grass Green?

  1. Herbert Garcia

    Need advice. On Sept 2 Landscaper company did Core Aeration and Overseeding with Turf Tall Fescue over established lawn and to fill in some Brown spots where there was no grass due to Strong August Sun. I live in Connecticut near NY State line. I bought an oscillating sprinkler and a timer and set schedule to water 3 times a day (morning, afternoon and eveing) for 15 min.
    Today is Sept 14 – its been 12 days and I can see germination as occurred. I assume most of the seed has germinated since it was 85% Turf Tall Fescue. My established lawn needs to be mowed due to all the watering but by Brown -bald spots have only few seeds germinated and even when grass is fully grown, I don’t think it will fully cover the bald spot area.

    So my question is do I wait until the new seed grows to point where I can mow the lawn (which it needs) and then re-seed the bald spots with seed and start the process again, 3x/day water, or do I seed the brown spots now with new seed (to try and get fuller coverage) knowing that my established lawn will have grown alot and wait till new seed grows in to mow (by that time established lawn will be in desperate need of a mow)?

    • Hey, Herbert!

      Great questions. When I overseed I typically try to do my first mow when the seedlings reach 3-3.5″ in height and mow to 2-2.25″. Best practice is to remove one third of the grass blade. I also bag my grass clippings for the first two mows so that the clippings don’t smother your seedlings. This will keep your established lawn from shading out your new grass.

      As to your question about the spots where things still look thin, if it were me I’d go ahead and spot seed those areas with a heavy hand after mowing. Fescue is quick to grow and establish and you’ll still have time for it to take before frost. After doing that, I’d mow around those areas on your next several mows to let the new, heavy spot-seeding really take without any stress. Let it get 3-3.5″ and mow 1/3 of the blade or less, bagging the clippings as you do on the rest of the lawn.

      I always mulch my clippings into the lawn, but when I seed or overseed you’ll get the best results by bagging the clippings the first few times.

      I see that you had a comment on another article as well, but I’ll just reply to this one – if I missed anything and you have follow-up questions feel free to leave another comment and I’ll reply as soon as I’m able!

      Good luck – enjoy the fall!

  2. Loyce Dennett

    Hi Sarah, my question is I think we have St Augustine grass and we live in Central Texas where it is brutally hot. We had TruGreen to treat our lawn for a year. We have a terrible problem with Dulles grass or crabgrass and they tried to kill it but with no luck. They tried killing other weeds with no luck also. Anyway, what can we put on our lawn to make it greener and kill the crabgrass/Dulles grass? Right now it’s a light green color. Is St Augustine supposed to be greener?

    • Hey, Loyce!

      Next spring when soil temperatures are between 50-55 degrees spread a good pre-emergent herbicide that will block the crabgrass from germinating. Follow that up with another application 5 or 6 weeks later. Crabgrass is an annual weed so if you block the seeds from germinating early in the spring you’ll give your St. Augustine time to thicken up and fill those areas, creating a canopy so the Crabgrass seeds don’t get enough light to germinate once the second application of pre-emergent wears off. I have an article on the subject right here which may help with that.

      As for greening up your St. Augustine, I’d do two things:

      Good luck, hope this helps!

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