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What Makes Your Grass Greener? Creating a Dark Lush Green Lawn

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Lush, dark green grass is the envy of every lawn owner. But why is grass green? And how can you get a greener lawn?

It is not hard to achieve a deep green, healthy lawn. If you take the time to implement a few basic practices not only will you achieve a beautiful green color but also have one of the healthiest lawns in the neighborhood. Here’s what you need to know to have a gorgeous, green lawn.

The green color of grass is caused by chlorophyll. Chlorophyll levels determine the depth of the green color in grass. The best ways to increase chlorophyll levels in your grass are to ensure the levels of iron, magnesium, and nitrogen are optimal, which can be done by adding various amendments regularly, and to water and mow on a regular schedule.

What Makes Your Grass Green?

What Makes Your Grass Greener

If you’re looking to create a dark green, lush lawn, understanding grass green pigment and chlorophyll is key. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color, and it’s also responsible for helping the plant convert sunlight into energy. In terms of grass, a higher chlorophyll content results in a darker green color.

The Science Behind The Green Color of Your Grass 

Chlorophyll is a green pigment that’s found inside tiny organelles called chloroplasts. The molecule absorbs certain wavelengths of visible light, which makes the grass appear green. It gets its name from the Greek word “chloros,” which means “yellowish-green”.

A molecule of chlorophyll consists of a magnesium ion at its center that’s bonded to a porphyrin. The green wavelengths of light don’t get absorbed and instead are reflected, right to your eyes.

So why is chlorophyll so important? Well, it’s essential for the process of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and uses it to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and organic molecules. This process provides the food and oxygen that we need to survive.

Interestingly, the amount of chlorophyll in a plant can fluctuate depending on the season. In the spring and summer, when the weather is warm and there’s plenty of sunlight, plants produce more chlorophyll. They use this extra pigment to perform more photosynthesis and produce more food. In the fall, when the days start getting shorter and the weather gets cooler, plants produce less chlorophyll. This is because they don’t need to produce as much food.

How Do You Encourage Grass to Produce More Chlorophyll?

green color of kentucky bluegrass

For your lawn to be able to have the deepest possible green color it needs producing more chlorophyll in the grass blades is essential. 

The secret to producing more chlorophyll and achieving greener grass is to provide your law optimal growing conditions and supplement it with the right nutrients to boost chlorophyll levels. However, there is also a danger of being over-aggressive with amendments and ending up ruining your lawn. Therefore the process should always start with a soil test as regular soil analysis is essential to maintaining healthy soil.

Soil Test

Carrying out soil tests is fairly straightforward. You can buy basic soil testing kits from most garden centers, nurseries, or online. If you require more detailed information you can send off soil samples to your local county extension office or equivalent. You can use the information from the soil analysis to work out what amendments need to be added. 

Iron

Iron is one of the most important nutrients for grass. It helps the plant produce chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis. Iron is also necessary for the plant to create organic nitrogen. You can encourage grass to produce more chlorophyll by applying iron to the soil.

This is done through a process called chelation, where the iron is bound to an organic molecule. This makes it easier for the plant to take up the iron and use it to create chlorophyll.

You can also encourage grass to produce more chlorophyll by providing it with the optimal amount of nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential for the plant to create chlorophyll, so by providing the grass roots with more nitrogen, you can encourage it to produce more chlorophyll.

Magnesium

Magnesium gives plant leaves that vibrant green hue that we are all familiar with, as well as being key to enabling the process of photosynthesis. There are several ways of adding magnesium, lime being one of the most straightforward. Some fertilizers also include it, however, lime also has the benefit of dealing with acidic soil. 

If using lime Dolomite lime is an excellent source. The magnesium content of dolomitic lime is significantly higher than that of other types of lime because it is produced from deposits of calcium and magnesium carbonates. The pH of the soil and the magnesium content of the soil are the most important considerations to make when choosing how to boost magnesium levels.

Other Nutrients

There are 13 different mineral nutrients and macronutrients that play an important part in the life of plants. To achieve a lush green grass color it is important to ensure that these elements are present in sufficient quantities in the soil.

In order to do this, you will need to apply slow-release fertilizer or compost to the soil. These fertilizers contain the minerals that are required to promote healthy growth.

Different Grass Types

color of bermuda grass

Another factor that has considerable bearing on the color of your lawn is the type of grass that you have, as different varieties of grass have different natural colors.

If you are looking to put down a new lawn this is something that is easier to control. If you already have a lawn then you can look to maximize the color of the grass you have by embarking on a gradual process of overseeding.

Overseeding to Improve The Color of Your Lawn

If you want to improve your lawn color overseeding is a good way to do it. You can blend in subtle changes using a careful mix of varieties. Research your current grass variety and which if you scarify before overseeing should produce a deeper green over a couple of growing seasons.

Problems with Overseeding to Improve Lawn Color

The main problem with this technique is if you are looking for a radical change in color. In some ways, the only thing more unsightly than dead spots on a lawn is a collision of vastly different shades of grass. In addition, it is important to ensure the viability of your grass seed to ensure the best quality of growth.

If your goal is a drastic deepening of color then it may be better to just remove the existing lawn and lay new sod, or hydroseed or seed. The approach you take is likely to be down to time and budget.

Deepest Green Grass Varieties

Cool-season grass tends to have a deeper green color than warm-season grass and some varieties of grass have a richer green color than others.

In terms of cool-season grass you will find that Kentucky bluegrass has a particularly deep and rich shade of green. It is therefore very popular among homeowners but is one of the more expensive options.

Deepest Green Grass Varieties

An alternative is perennial ryegrass. This provides a good deep green lawn that retains its color all year round. Ryegrasses tend to have very high chlorophyll levels, so they’ll give your lawn that deep green color you’re after. If you are considering a seed mix then go for mixes containing mostly or all ryegrasses.

In terms of warm-season grass, the best greens come from the zoysia variety, particularly zoysia zeon, which has a notable dark green color.[1]

Alternatives to zoysiagrass include Bermuda grass which is hardy and popular but does have a tendency to turn brown during winter months.

General Lawn Care

Having gone through all the trouble of selecting the right type of grass and adding the correct amendments to boost chlorophyll, your lawn still requires moisture and oxygen to survive and keep your lawn green. These are determined by how you care for your lawn. Regular and proper lawn maintenance will have a significant impact on the green color of your grass. 

Water Your Lawn

Water deeply in summer. Deep watering encourages deep roots growth which results in a stronger, healthier lawn. As a rule of thumb, most lawns require at least an inch of water every week in the summer,  some a lot more, dependent on climate and whether the lawn is establishing itself.

Don’t overwater your lawn. Too much water or poor water drainage can actually damage the roots of your grass, making it more susceptible to disease and pests. The controlling factor in how often you water should be soil moisture levels which should be between 21-40%, depending on the soil type.

Mow Your Lawn to the Correct Height

Mow your lawn correctly. Mowing too short can damage your grass, while mowing too high can make it more difficult for your grass to photosynthesize sunlight into food. The ideal height for most grasses is 2-3 inches (5-7 cm).

Make sure you have sharp lawn mower blades ad dull blades will tear at the lawn rather than cut it, damaging the grass in the process.

Aerate your lawn

Aerating your lawn is an important part of the process of achieving a healthy green lawn. It helps the soil structure, relieves soil compaction, and introduces better airflow into the soil, thus increasing the oxygen supply to the roots.  Finally, it helps to improve water drainage which helps avoid overwatering whilst improving the access of water to the roots.

Shade

The final element to consider is light, as we have already noted light plays a crucial role in the development of chlorophyll. This means that shady areas of a lawn might struggle to generate the depth of green that non-shaded areas do. It is important, therefore, to cut back overhanging foliage as much as possible. If this is not possible look to choose a grass variety, such as fescue, that enjoys shady conditions.

Summary:

Creating a dark green, lush lawn does not have to be difficult. By understanding why grass is green and following some simple tips, you can have a beautiful lawn that is the envy of your neighborhood. Grass gets its green color from the pigment chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is important because it helps plants convert sunlight into energy. The best ways to get a greener lawn are to mow high, water deeply, add the correct amendments, and fertilize when needed.

So, next time you’re out enjoying the warm weather and cut your lawn, remember that it’s the chlorophyll in the grass that’s responsible for its green color.

Notes:

  1. Clemson.edu College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences: Zoysiagrass – Zoysia species