If you live in a house that has a lawn in the front or back yard, you probably like to keep it looking as healthy and manicured as possible. This is especially true for anyone whose house is in an HOA neighborhood.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to keep our grass well-fed and watered, it can end up developing yellow patches. Not only can these patches be unsightly and off-putting, but they can also spark concerns about the health of the soil in your neighborhood.
Thankfully, there are some common causes of yellow grass and ways in which you can fix grass that is turning yellow.
In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why your grass might be turning yellow and what you can do to reverse the problem and prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
Main Causes Of Yellowing Grass
There are multiple things that can cause your grass to become yellow. Below we will look at some of the most common reasons why your lawn might be turning yellow.
It is important to note that the pattern or the way in which your grass is turning yellow can help to indicate which cause is most likely. Identifying the cause accurately can help you to treat your grass more quickly.
This is one of the most common causes of grass turning yellow. The primary nutrients that your lawn requires to remain in good health include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
In addition to these basic nutrients, grass also needs iron and other vital micronutrients. All of these nutrients need to be present in the correct quantities for your grass to thrive.
It only takes one nutrient to be lacking to begin to turn your grass yellow. However, yellowing grass is only one symptom of a nutrient deficiency in your lawn.
When the nutrients in your soil and grass are unbalanced or lacking, you will also notice inconsistent growth on your lawn which can be unsightly at best.
In order to correct a nutrient deficiency in your lawn, it is important to know which nutrient it is that is lacking in your grass. This cannot be done by looking at the presentation of your yellowing grass.
You will need to conduct a test of the soil to find out which nutrient requires boosting. While it is possible to purchase a test yourself, the best results will be obtained by contacting a lawn care professional.
The most common nutrients that lawns are deficient in are nitrogen and iron. This is because these nutrients are most likely to be lacking in the soil. If the yellowing is occurring in patches, low levels of iron are a significant possibility.
If the yellow is covering the entire lawn, a lack of nitrogen is most likely to be the cause. Again, a lawn care professional will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and treat the lawn and soil appropriately and quickly.
Excess Water On The Lawn
Another common reason for grass to turn yellow is over-watering. When too much water is added to the lawn, waterlogging can occur. This can also happen if a significant amount of rainfall occurs after an extended dry spell.
When waterlogging conditions happen, the grass cannot receive enough oxygen to effectively respire. This can lead to poor root development.
When the roots can’t develop properly they will be unable to absorb the essential nutrients and water that are required for healthy grass to develop. Without the proper water and nutrients, the grass will turn yellow.
Similarly, if a lawn becomes waterlogged, the likelihood of diseases developing is heightened. Fungal infections in particular are common in conditions that expose the grass to excess moisture.
If you are having to water your lawn manually, it is important to make sure that you are applying an appropriate amount of water and not over-saturating the ground.
If you live somewhere that experiences high levels of rainfall, it is important to properly aerate your lawn to improve drainage.
We briefly touched on the types of lawn diseases that can affect your lawn and cause yellowing above. The most common type of lawn disease that can cause your grass to turn yellow is fungi.
When fungi take hold of your lawn, they can manifest in fairy rings, mold, smut on the lawn, and yellowing grass. As mentioned above, fungal infections thrive in wet conditions when the grass is holding on to too much watering.
It is often a ripple effect from overwatering or a lack of efficient drainage in the soil.
One of the most important things to note with fungi, the infection will spread across the grass very quickly. If you are unable to control the infection in time, it could end up infecting the whole lawn.
This will require a lot of work to remove and make the lawn healthy again. It is important to stay on top of the health of your grass and keep an eye on developing yellow spots.
Excess Or Lack Of Fertilizer
Applying fertilizer to your lawn is fairly standard practice when it comes to lawn care and maintenance. However, when it is done improperly, it can be the undoing of your luscious lawn.
If you apply an excessive amount of fertilizer that contains nitrogen, burns can occur on your grass before it turns yellow and dies. The excess nitrogen in the fertilizer also increases the acidity of the soil.
When this happens, an imbalance in the pH of the soil leads to the yellowing of the grass. Any area that was subjected to the excess application of fertilizer will become an unpleasant yellow color.
Similarly, if you are not applying enough fertilizer to your lawn, the soil may still not be getting enough nutrients which can lead to yellowing due to nutrient deficiencies.
To avoid applying too much or too little fertilizer to your lawn, it is important to follow the instructions on the box to measure the right amount for your yard.
We mentioned before that grass needs an appropriate amount of water in order to flourish and thrive. Although too much water can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your lawn, not enough water can also affect the growth of your grass.
If a lawn is subjected to limited amounts of water for an extended period of time, the growth of the grass above and below the soil. With stifled growth, the grass will become weak and will be unable to uptake the nutrients that it needs.
When grass lacks nutrients because of drought and becomes weak, it will turn a pale green color and eventually fade to yellow. Relying on rainwater during hotter months or periods of drought is often not enough.
You will need to supply water to your grass manually through watering. However, this isn’t always possible.
If you are living in a state or county that is under drought restrictions for water grass, you may have to allow your grass to die and begin anew when restrictions are lifted.
Another slightly less common cause of yellow grass is damage that is caused by pests. There are a few different types of insect pests that eat grass leaves and roots.
If insects or pests begin to invade your lawn, they will feed on the roots and the leaves. When this happens, the grass will turn yellow and eventually go brown and die completely.
The most common pests that can affect your lawn in this way include grubs, armyworms, and clinch bugs. You will need to search your lawn to see if you have any of these insects on your grass.
One or two insects aren’t likely to be the cause of yellowing, however, if you find a significant number of them they could be the culprits. Remember that many bugs can be very small so your search should be thorough.
You will need to undertake some easy DIY tests to determine whether the insects are causing the yellowing or if it is something else. If it is pests, you will need to take steps to eliminate them.
If you have an infestation you may need to contact a professional lawn care service.
Another possible cause of yellow grass is lawn dormancy. When the temperature drops during the winter months, the harsh, freezing weather can affect your grass. Similarly, when the temperatures rise to scorching levels in the summer, your lawn can be affected.
During either of these extreme weather conditions, grass can switch to hibernation mode to help avoid them. The grass will naturally begin to turn yellow during this dormancy.
The yellowing is the result of limited root growth and leaf-growing activity. The grass will use a limited quantity of water to avoid drying out completely.
If your lawn is dormant during the summer months, do not stop watering as this can kill the grass. Simply ensure that you are not waterlogging the ground.
This is a particularly common cause of yellowing if you have household pets that spend time in the garden, or if your lawn is accessible to wildlife and neighborhood animals.
It is the nitrogen content of animal urine that causes the yellowing of grass. It is a similar effect to that of over fertilizing your grass. The excess nitrogen affects the pH balance of the grass and can cause it to turn yellow.
You can avoid animal urine causing yellowing by regularly irrigating your lawn or rinsing patches of the lawn when your pet potties outside.
Soil compaction can cause severe yellowing of grass. The most common cause of soil compaction is frequent walking over the surface of the grass. This is more likely to be a cause in a busy family garden without a pathway.
The compaction of the soil affects the aeration of the soil which can make it difficult for the roots of the grass to take hold and grow properly. This affects the absorption of nutrients into the grass leaves. Without the correct nutrients, the grass will turn yellow.
Solutions For Yellowing Grass
More often than not, it is possible to fix your yellow grass and return your lawn to its former glory. The first step in fixing your yellow grass is to diagnose the root cause of the problem.
Once you have diagnosed the problem, you can implement the appropriate measures to rectify the issue.
We briefly mentioned above different characteristics of yellowing grass that can help you to diagnose the issue.
If you are struggling to diagnose the problem then you can enlist the help of a lawn care professional. Below are some of the most common ways to fix yellow grass.
If you have identified a nutrient deficiency in your lawn, the best course of action is to apply a suitable fertilizer to your soil. For the best results, you will need to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the label.
It is important that you avoid over-fertilizing the lawn as this can make the problem worse or cause a different problem. You can choose between synthetic fertilizers or organic fertilizers.
Using Correct Watering Practices
If you have established that your grass has become yellow because of over or under-watering, you can reverse the yellowing by implementing correct watering practices. The amount of watering that your grass needs depends on the type of grass that you have.
You will be able to find out the water requirements of your turf by searching the type online. However, if you are unsure of the type of grass that you have, you can test the moisture content of the soil by touching it.
If the soil is dry to the touch it will require watering, if it is moist, it will not.
Control Pests And Diseases
If you have noticed a number of insect pests on your grass or that the ground is waterlogged and you suspect that fungi might be causing the yellowing of your grass, there are a couple of steps that you need to take in order to fix the issue.
Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent pests, however, if you already have them you will need to get rid of them. This can be done using products from a gardening store if the problem is minor.
If your lawn is infested, you may need to use a professional lawn maintenance service.
This also applies to fungal infections in your lawn. If you don’t treat the fungi swiftly and properly, you run the risk of your entire lawn being ruined. A professional lawn care service can help to eliminate the fungal problem and prevent it from coming back.
Having waterlogged soil can lead to multiple issues for your lawn, all of which can lead to the yellowing of the grass. To avoid these issues, it is important to make sure that the soil has proper drainage.
This can often be achieved through proper aeration and avoiding compaction of the soil.
Regular maintenance of your lawn can help to prevent yellow grass altogether. Looking after your lawn properly involves correct watering and fertilizing practices. You should also ensure that your soil is well aerated.
Regular mowing can also help, but you should ensure that the blades on your mower are sharp to avoid affecting the grass during maintenance.
Yellow grass can be a nightmare for homeowners who take pride in the appearance of their home. Sometimes, developing yellow grass can be unavoidable, such as during droughts. However, there are always things you can do to improve and fix your yellow lawn.