Why Is My Grass Turning Yellow?

Last Updated on May 16, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

animal urine can make your grass turn yellow

Grass turning yellow can be a depressing sight. There’s nothing quite like a lush green lawn losing its luscious color to send a proud gardener into a pique.

Yellowing grass can happen to all types of grass. This includes Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, St. Augustine grass and other grass varieties.

But what causes this loss in color and vitality? And is there anything that can be done about grass turning yellow? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is.

But before we get to that, we need to understand some of the reasons for grass leaf blades turning yellow.

Grass Blades Turning Yellow

Among the most common causes for a yellow lawn are disease, a lack of nutrients, or the simple fact that your lawn has gone to sleep in order to protect itself—a phenomenon known as lawn dormancy.

Let’s take a look at these and other possible causes for grass turning yellow in a little more detail.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Lawns have a tendency to suck in a lot of nutrients and the right amounts of nutrients will surely keep your lawn green. Grass needs macronutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphor as well as other nutrients found in the soil in order to stay healthy. 

A lack of these nutrients is the most common reason that can turn your grass yellow. Nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are essential to lawn health.

However, in grass, it’s usually an iron deficiency or nitrogen deficiency that leads to grass blades losing their color and developing yellow spots.

A lack of iron will also result in stunted grass blade growth, which doesn’t help matters because it results in inconsistent, patchy turf. Conducting a soil test will help establish where deficiencies in your grass lie, allowing you to treat your lawn with the appropriate fertilizer.

Fertilizers

If, after testing the soil, the result indicates a nutrient deficiency, it’s high time to get out the fertilizer. Using slow release fertilizer is the most effective way of ensuring your grass gets the nutrients that it lacks, which in turn helps to prevent your lawn turning yellow.

A well-balanced lawn fertilizer with the correct ratio of nutrients should be incorporated into your lawn care plan so that soil can regenerate quickly and, in turn, stimulate grass growth.

Be careful, as adding too much fertilizer is not good for grass.

Top Dressing and Overseeding

As well as utilizing fertilizers, top dressing and overseeding with fresh grass seed can improve grass conditions of most lawns by replacing missing nutrients and creating the ideal conditions for new seeds to germinate.

In this way, the problem areas in your lawn, which have lost their color and luster, can be repaired without interfering with healthier areas of your lawn.

Properly applied, top dressing shouldn’t be too thick as it might suffocate your grass. The idea is that existing grass should be allowed to grow through, while unhealthy grass is revived.Top dressing is also a very effective way of dethatching your lawn.

Excess Nitrogen

Even though we have been extolling the virtues of nitrogen in relation to grass growth and vitality, you might be surprised to hear that too much nitrogen in a fertilizer can have an adverse effect on the health of your grass and cause it to lose color.

Excess nitrogen salts in fertilizers not only lead to leaf scorch causing unsightly discolored streaks and spots on your lawn, but also chemical burns to grass roots as well as altering pH levels of soil. Just to be clear, pH is the measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. Having the correct pH is vital for healthy grass.

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Often the result of over-enthusiastic fertilizing, this imbalance illustrates the importance of the professional soil pH tester in establishing the correct nutritional requirements for your grass. Because overdoing it can have serious consequences. 

Many people have great success using Epsom salt for grass, it is known to help to increase the uptake of nutrients. Give it a try, it doesn’t harm your lawn.

Fortunately, there is hope for your lawn to recover, you can follow our guide of how to get burnt grass green again on this page, and all should be good eventually.

Other Causes of Nitrogen Excess

Believe it or not, dog urine is another major culprit in contributing to too much nitrogen. So, if you start seeing your grass turn yellow in areas where your dog pees, consider that he may be the culprit. 

Dog urine spots contain a high concentration of nitrogen and can cause significant discoloration to an otherwise pristine lawn—usually in the form of yellow spots.

To avoid this eventuality, coax or train your dog to relieve itself somewhere other than the lawn, or if it has to, then at least not pee on the same spot twice.

If you do catch them going on the lawn, immediately pour on water or a dog urine neutralizer to flush the area and limit any damage that can be caused by the dog urine.

Lawn Fungus and Disease

Disease is another common reason for a yellow lawn. Most lawn diseases are fungal in source. These can include snow mold, fairy rings, dollar spot, fusarium, and smut, among others. In these cases, it is essential to control the moisture levels and ensure the lawn is well aerated.

By watering in the morning and removing any thatch or clippings from the surface of your lawn, you will ensure that excess water either drains away or evaporates.

Good irrigation and drainage play a key role in preventing the conditions that fungi thrive in.

Also, keeping the grass short by using a lawn mower frequently, combined with the use of core aerators and rakes, will create the “airy” environment that lawn diseases really hate.

Pests

In the United States, chinch bugs are an all too common reason for yellow spots appearing on lawns. Particular attention should be paid to these pests.

There are a number of simple DIY tests to establish whether these bugs are the cause of your yellow grass. If the results prove positive, then it’s time to remove any thatch as well as to make sure there isn’t an excess of nitrogen in the soil— these pests thrive on nitrogen. Lawn aeration and top dressing are also effective.

And if that doesn’t do the trick, you could try insecticides, but this should really be a last resort. Insecticides are a danger to children and pets, not to mention the environment.

Moreover, insecticide treatments of chinches are often counterproductive because they can kill insects that control chinch bug numbers.

In other words, it would be wise not to tamper with the healthy ecosystem of your garden, and by doing so, interfere in biological control.

Weeds

A pale green or yellow lawn can also be a sign of a pesky weed infestation. This can be detrimental to the lawn and you want to avoid this a t all costs as ridding your lawn of established weeds is not the easiest task.

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Be sure to aerate your lawn properly in order to fill in bare patches. This, in turn, will encourage the grass to grow rather than the weeds.

Over Watering

We all know that adding good amounts of water to your lawn is vital for the healthy growth of it. Watering your grass excessively however can have a detrimental effect on a lush lawn.

Not only does overwatering make your lawn more prone to disease but it can also negatively affect the development of the lawn’s roots.

You will end up with waterlogged soil, which prevents the successful uptake of nutrients and oxygen by the roots, resulting in the leaf blades of the grass starting to yellow due to suffocation of the root system.

As a rule of thumb, your grass turf should only be watered once you can feel that the top layer of the soil has dried out. Water in the morning

Another thing you can do to regulate watering your grass, is to install an irrigation system. This way, you do not need to spend time watering the lawn manually, and you can set it to the perfect watering schedule.

a proper watering regime will help keep grass green

Lack of Water

We have so far only talked about too much water; now it’s time to address the question of too little. Excess dryness brought on by extreme heat can be just as damaging to a lush layer of turf, causing the grass to turn yellow.

Dehydrated grass will quickly form yellow spots and lose its luster. If left too long in this state, serious damage to your lawn might occur.

In such conditions, it’s necessary to water the lawn with greater frequency. Still, even here, it should be remembered that watering in the day is advisable if you wish to avoid the damp and dark coming into contact to provide the perfect breeding ground for potentially harmful fungal lawn diseases.

Lawn Dormancy

Another possible reason that causes lawns to turn yellow is something called “lawn dormancy”. Lawn dormancy is when your grass goes to sleep in order to protect itself from harsh weather conditions, such as during the cold or dry seasons.

After all, if there’s precious little water around, it makes sense to conserve what little you have in order to keep your roots alive. The same is true when there’s frost about.

During this period, it is critical that you continue with your regular lawn care program by watering, mowing, and removing weeds if you have to.

The idea is to reduce the dormancy times and accelerate recovery as much as possible. Always remember to use sharp blades when mowing your lawn, to reduce unnecessary damage to the grass blades.

Rest assured, your lawn will bounce back.

One example of a grass type that will turn especially yellow during fall and winter, is Bermuda grass. This is thanks to it being a warm-season grass type.

Over Usage

This leads us to the use of your lawn and the impact that can have on the vitality and color of your grass.

Soil compaction from too much walking on the lawn can cause the pores in soil to close. This, in turn, has a negative impact on grass roots, as well as preventing water and nutrients from finding their intended target turning grass yellow or even causing brown grass.

Core aerators and rakes are your allies in loosening up the soil enough so that the grass roots can breathe and feed again.

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If you believe prevention is better than cure, make a conscious effort not to walk on the compacted area wherever possible.

A footpath or stepping stones strategically placed might be a solution if the grass cannot be avoided.

FAQ

What Causes Yellow Grass?

Numerous factors may cause otherwise healthy lawn to turn yellow, from a lack of nutrients, to fungal diseases, to excess fertilizer or even poor soil. To further complicate things, grass can simply fall asleep in order to protect itself from harsh weather conditions. Dormant grass will also turn yellow. 

The key to best practices is to quickly establish the cause and then to take the relevant actions.

How Can You Fix Yellowing Grass?

It is important to remember that color and vitality can be restored to yellow grass. A soil test will give you a pretty good idea of where a nutrient deficiency might exist. 

Good lawn maintenance practices of mowing — using sharp mower blades —, aerating, and watering the lawn deeply and correctly should see off any lawn diseases that might be around.

It is advised to frequently mow your lawn, so that the remaining grass clippings are short enough. When leaving them on the grass they can be beneficial by adding nitrogen to the lawn aiding in keeping the grass green. If the grass clippings are too long, they could end up smothering the grass.

If the yellow lawn has been brought about through over usage, then it might be a good idea to think about incorporating possible design solutions into your lawn. For example, a footpath or stepping stones.

Will Over Fertilized Grass Grow Back?

Over fertilized grass suffering from what is known as “fertilizer burn” can grow back. As long as it’s not already dead. And you need to be sure, because the grass might simply be dormant in an attempt to protect itself rather than dead.

Assuming there is hope and that it is still alive, however bad the fertilizer burn is, then flushing out the affected areas with generous quantities of water will help revive it.

Watering in this way for about a week should be sufficient to return the fertilizer burned areas to their old self.

How Do You Fix Dead Yellow Grass?

Assuming that you have established that your yellow grass is really dead (a simple “tug” test will do) rather than just lying dormant, then revival is out of the question and you would probably have to lay new sod.

It’s time to rake up the dead grass and spread new grass seeds. Obviously, fertilizer will speed up the process by providing all the necessary nutrients.

Conclusion

So that about wraps up proceedings, answering the question: Why is my grass turning yellow.

As you can see, there are many things and reasons that can turn your lawn yellow. To recap, these include dog urine spots, an iron deficiency, lack of proper lawn care, drought stress and chemical burns.

But yellow grass blades, once they arrive, luckily, do not have to be a permanent fixture of your lawn. By isolating the problem that is causing your grass to turn yellow and acting as soon as your grass shows signs of this problem, discoloration can be quickly halted and reversed.

Good lawn maintenance and practice are the key to a healthy and vibrant-looking lawn that doesn’t turn yellow.

Resources;

https://www.britannica.com/science/snow-mold

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803600/