My Neighbor’s Grass is Greener

It’s seemed like ages since it’s actually been acceptable to recommend fertilizer on a homeowner’s lawn, but the month of May is upon us, meaning our warm-season grasses should be actively growing by now. However, some may find themselves unsatisfied with the color of their lawn, and the reasons for this could be wide-ranging.

The shade of green can vary depending on your grass species. Healthy centipedegrass typically should have a granny-smith apple green color compared to the more heavily fertilized bermudagrasses or zoysiagrasses. This difference in color often leads centipedegrass owners to overfertilize a yard with nitrogen fertilizer in hopes of creating a greener lawn. Instead, it leads to the eventual decline of the centipedegrass yard either by pests or environmental disorder. It’s important for homeowners to only supply what a grass needs and not try to force a different response- when fighting nature and evolutionary adaptations, a homeowner is going to lose. For fertilizer and other maintenance recommendations, please see: HGIC 1215, Centipedegrass Yearly Maintenance Program, HGIC 1216, Bermudagrass Yearly Maintenance Program, HGIC 1217, Zoysiagrass Yearly Maintenance Program, HGIC 1218, St.Augustinegrass Yearly Maintenance Program.

You may also notice at times during the growing season, particularly after heavy rain, that irregular yellow areas may appear. It’s possible that the lawn may be experiencing a temporary nutrient deficiency of iron which is vital for energy and chlorophyll production within a plant. This issue can be remedied in a short amount of time by applying a chelated iron product according to specified label rates. It is important to monitor for disease development as warm weather and humidity normally equate to disease pressure in our area.

Heavy rain can cause the leaching of iron, leading to irregular chlorotic (yellow) shapes in lawns.

Heavy rain can cause the leaching of iron, leading to irregular chlorotic (yellow) shapes in lawns.
L.B. McCarty, ©2022 Clemson University

This use of iron is also an easy way to increase your lawn’s green color any time during the season without spurring any excessive growth, which is associated with nitrogen fertilizer applications. It is important, however, to not rely on this every time as you may be ignoring some underlying soil conditions which could be affecting nutrient absorption. For more information on soil sampling, please see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing.

Ultimately, a lawn and its care should be enjoyable for a homeowner and reflect their desires for the landscape, so give your grass the care it needs and have fun playing in an area you’ve created, regardless of the color of your neighbor’s lawn.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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