Why is My Grass Different Shades of Green?

When you think of the sprawling green of a lawn, you probably don’t specify which type of green you’re imagining. Grass comes in a variety of shades naturally, but changes in those natural shades can be a sign of stress.

The different colors of grass can tell you a lot about its condition and help you decide how to take care of the lawn.

Why is Grass Green?

Grass is green because chlorophyll, the energy-producing part of a plant cell, absorbs light, but not the green light wavelength. This is the color that we see reflected from the grass – the more chlorophyll a plant produces and stores, the darker green the plant.

Nitrogen is the central part of chlorophyll and an essential fertilizer component for lawns. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which plants get from the soil, water, and air through their roots, create a chlorophyll molecule with nitrogen and magnesium at the center.

Chlorophyll makes, stores, and releases energy for the cell and the whole plant to use during photosynthesis.

Grass Types And Their Shades

Grass Types And Their Shades

A few factors affect the greenness of a grass type, including the species, weather, and soil profile. Some types of grass are naturally lighter than others. Warm-season grasses tend to be more pale shades of green.

Zoysia grass, for example, is a medium green, while Bermuda grass is on the darker side of medium.

Cool-season grasses like fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass are darker green since they store more chlorophyll for the darker fall and winter days. Some varieties are winter-hearty, and their stores of chlorophyll keep your lawn green in the colder months.

Why Is My Grass Light And Dark Green?

If your lawn seems to be two shades of green or multicolored, whether it’s in patches or spread across the yard will give you a first clue as to why there is some uneven coloring.

  • If your lawn seems to have different hues of green across the whole yard, it can be because your grass seed was a mix of different species. Producers often sell grass seeds with several types of grass since some will be more sun or shade tolerant than others, and complimentary types will give you a more dense coverage.
  • If you see patches of light green, it may be due to too little nitrogen in that area. It may also be due to your dog if you have one, and patches of grass closer to yellow may be due to a septic tank leak. It may also be that the grass is getting too little sun or water.
  • Dark green patches may be a sign of fungus called Fairy Ring or a circular growth of mushrooms. It grows in the thatch layer of the turf and blocks water from absorbing, eventually resulting in browning of the area. It’s dark green first, however, because the fungus breaks down the plant material and releases nutrients into the soil, including nitrogen, that gives a boost of chlorophyll production before it starts to brown and wilt.

Is New Grass Lighter In Color?

Is New Grass Lighter In Color

New grass tends to be darker in color than older grass since growth periods are a critical time for chlorophyll production.

Starter fertilizer is frequently used when planting grass seed, and early spring is the time to fertilize your dormant lawn. When soil has enough nutrients available, especially nitrogen, it will be a vibrant green no matter the shade.

How Do You Fix Light Green Grass?

If you think your grass could be greener, do a soil test to check the nutrient profile and pH level. Low nitrogen levels or too-acidic soil can leave grass nutrient-deficient and on the lighter side of green.

Check the soil moisture level as well, since water stress will make the grass look dull and pale.

What Will Make My Grass Dark Green?

Since grass uses a lot of nitrogen for chlorophyll production and storage, it will deplete the soil after a while. If your test shows low nitrogen levels, choose a fertilizer for the grass type.

Rebalancing the soil profile with the right NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio for your lawn will help it regain its green vibrance.

Keeping A Green Lawn

Keeping A Green Lawn

Green grass means healthy grass, and when you notice the color is off, it’s usually a sign of poor grass health. If the blades are looking a dull green, yellowish, even grey, or brown, these may be signs of drought, overwatering, nutrient deficiency, or disease. Grass will brown when it goes dormant, but the unseasonal color change is cause for attention.

In addition to vibrant green rather than a dull color, signs of a healthy lawn include firm grass blades that stand straight up and substantial and even blade density. Thin, patchy, or limp growth are signs that the grass needs care.


Author: Matt Hagens

Hi, I’m Matt the owner of Obsessed Lawn. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Learn more about me and find me on Facebook.