It can be disconcerting when an entire lawn loses its dark green color and instead becomes pale or straw colored. Oftentimes this can occur in the lead up to Winter, as the warmer temperatures begin to ebb and cooler weather begins to set in. So why is our entire lawn losing becoming discolored, why is it looking so unhealthy, why is it the entire lawn and not just patches or certain lawn areas, and how can we fix this lawn problem?
In the absence of any tell-tale signs of lawn disease, and with the entire lawn being affected, we can first understand that the lawn discoloration is a result of something we are or are not doing in our own lawn care practices which is in turn making the lawn more unhealthy than it should be.
An important note is that some lawn types, including the different types of Saint Augustine lawns available for sale today, can naturally lose their color over Winter months, and there is very little if anything we can do to alter this from happening, as this is an inherent trait of some grass types. Still, we can do our best to improve our overall lawn care practices to ensure our lawns remain as healthy and as green as possible throughout the year.
Instead of any type of instant fix, we’ll instead look at the entirety of our lawn care practices through all seasons, to ensure we have as healthy a lawn as possible that will not lose its color at any time of the year, or at the least we can lessen any discoloration of our lawns.
Going back to the basics of lawn care, we’ll first look at soil, nutrients, and water.
Ensuring Adequate Lawn Watering
Is the lawn getting adequate water which is appropriate to the seasons? As lawn discoloration usually happens as we head into Winter months, we should check the lawn is receiving enough water in Fall. It won’t need a lot of water, but it will need enough to ensure it doesn’t become unhealthy or water deprived as Winter approaches.
Lack of water will also lead to a lawn being discolored all year round, not just in the colder months.
Lawn Soil Quality
The quality of our lawn soils and the nutrients within them are one of the single biggest determining factors that contribute to a lawn which is green and healthy all year, every year.
There isn’t a lot that can be done to the soil to improve it while it is under an existing lawn, though over time, and over the life of the lawn we can keep doing the right things that will go to improve lawn soil quality and the quality of our lawns over the years.
Top dressing lawns that are growing in poor quality soils will aid in improving overall lawn soil quality. Using a richly organic soil mix and lightly top dressing the lawn every couple of years will help bring natural organic goodness into the lawn soil.
Specialized organic lawn fertilizers based on manure or plant matter can also be applied to the lawn at least a couple of times a year, if not more often. These fertilizers will not just feed the lawn itself, but more importantly they will feed the soil itself.
Mulch lawn mowing will put even more organic matter back into our lawn soils. A plug is inserted into the back of the lawn mower, which then forces the lawn clippings to recirculate through the mower blades many times before ejecting the finely chopped lawn clippings back into the lawn itself. These finely chopped lawn clippings will then break down and feed the lawn with nutrients that are rich in Nitrogen, continually feeding the lawn soil with an ongoing supply of rotting organic matter. These lawn clippings will also insulate the lawn from excessive moisture loss from the soil over Summer.
Keeping in mind that a lawn which is growing too fast or is too long should not be mulch mowed as there will not be enough time left between lawn mowings for a larger amount of clippings to break down into the soil, and so the lawn clippings will instead accumulate on top of the lawn.
Lawn Fertilization To Improve Lawn Color
It may well be that our lawn soils are just fine, that we are keeping up with adequate lawn watering dependent on the season, yet our lawns still become discolored.
Again, this may well be dependent on the type of lawn we have growing in our yard and this lawn discoloration may just be a natural trait of that particular lawn.
Regardless of the particular reason, many lawns will discolor for many reasons, and another of the most important factors which can cause loss of color in lawns is the lack of nutrients available to it. Just as we may become sickly if our own diets do not include an abundance of nutrient rich foods, so too will lawns and plants become sickly if they are deprived of the nutrients they need to survive.
Lawn fertilization is a necessary requirement for almost every lawn if we want that lawn to be in a healthy condition with dark green color and good growth. Having even a very modest year round lawn fertilization program will do wonders for the health of almost every lawn.
If we don’t want to become too pedantic about our lawn care, then even having a schedule of fertilizing the lawn once every 3-4 months may go a long way to having a much healthier lawn throughout the year. We can use slow release lawn fertilizers to make things easier for us, or combine a schedule that uses both organic and chemical fertilizer products.
Lawn Mowing Heights And Lawn Health
Some of us have a natural tendency or preference to mow our lawns a little too short. We all have our own personal preference to most things and lawn mowing and lawn heights are no different.
Mowing lawns too short can lead to poor lawn health unless they are being properly cared for to be maintained at very low cutting heights. Poor lawn health will always present itself to us as a lawn which is continually discolored, or straw colored.
Past this, lawns in poor health are also subject to even more problems, being more prone to lawn disease, lawn pests, and weed invasions. More soil moisture will also be lost every day through evaporation when the lawn is not kept long enough, leading again to poor lawn health unless even more water is being applied to the turf.
Many of us can easily raise our lawn mowing heights up a notch or two, and this will combine with all our other lawn care practices to help maintain a healthy green lawn all year round.
Even though we may be doing everything else right, our lawns may still be discolored at times, or just not as green as we may like. There are some quick fixes around of course, but these are never the real solution, when our lawns may just be missing something tiny that it desperately needs.
Apart from all the major nutrients, lawns also require Micro-Nutrients too, and a lawn lacking in these will once again lean towards poor health and show discoloration across the entire lawn.
Ensuring we use a quality lawn fertilizer that includes all the minor elements necessary for good lawn health will do wonders for our lawns. Otherwise we can also look at applying a fertilizer solution which is comprised solely of these minor nutrients.
Sometimes called Trace Elements, or Micro Nutrients, or Minor Nutrients, we can purchase a small pack of these for a few dollars from the lawn fertilizer aisle at our favorite stockist. They are usually mixed with water in a watering can and applied sparingly across the lawn surface. An occasional application of these trace elements once a year or every couple of years may be just what our lawn lack and need.
Good Lawn Care Produces Green Lawns
Rather than looking at a quick fix that really doesn’t solve anything at all, our primary focus on having a healthy green lawn all year and throughout the years should always remain on our own regular lawn care practices over the life of the lawn.
Ensuring water is adjusted to the lawn dependent on the season, feeding our lawn soils as naturally as possible, adding nutrients in the form of fertilizers to the turf regularly though not necessarily too frequently, keeping the lawn with enough leaf material to naturally insulate the soil and crowd out any possible weed invasions; all work together to us doing everything right to ensure our lawn is as healthy as possible at all times, and a healthy lawn is a green lawn.