We all want that lush dark green carpet of grass which will perfectly frame our homes and yards and make us want to come home each day to a home to be proud of. We often delegate the lawn mowing to a professional contractor who will mow and edge our lawns to a standard we could only dream of achieving. Until that time when we realise our lawn isn't looking that good, it's edged and mowed beautifully but it's lost it's dark green colour, and the entire lawn is looking yellow or brown in appearance.
So what can be causing a lawn to become yellow or brown?
Lawn diseases can be more common than most people realise, and are most easily diagnosable when patches of turf lose colour, get sick or even die. The key to beginning to suspect a lawn disease is that a lawn disease will begin in a very small spot and continue to outwards and expand in circles or irregular shaped patches.
Lawn diseases are numerous and are covered in other articles in the lawn diseases section of this site.
For the purpose of this article, we will concentrate on general lawn health, which can be suspected and seen as different from a lawn disease when it affects the entire lawn and not just patches or circles.
The most common reason a lawn will turn yellow or brown is due to something lacking in the lawn, which in turn is making the lawn sick.
The most common causes for lawns turning yellow or brown are lack of nutrients or lack of water..
There's just no way around this one and it's the number 1 reason lawns lose their colour and become sickly, lawns need nutrients, these are fed to the lawn in the form of lawn fertilisers, and should be applied all year round at 6-8 weekly intervals. Lawn fertilisers contain all the nutrients lawns need to survive, thrive, and stay healthy and green. All homeowners should implement a good lawn fertilising regime as just normal lawn care practice.
Watering lawns often seems like a relatively simple task, but is so often not gotten right by many people, and lawns suffer as a result. Watering should only be done in the morning, this prevents lawn diseases from establishing and gives lawns the water at the only time they can absorb it - which is during the day. Watering at night simply wastes large amounts of water. If necessary, watering and reticulation times should also be monitored and adjusted as necessary.
Watering lawns also extends to the area of water retention in the soil, if we have poor soils then water cannot properly spread throughout the soil profile, nor can the soil hold onto water for long periods of time if it is water repellent. Regular applications of Wetting Agents should be applied at least twice a year to aid in the water friendliness of the lawn soil.
If water and nutrients have been taken care of, then other minor elements can be looked at which may be affecting the health of a lawn.
Lawns which are affected by high winds can have their soils dried out very quickly, this can be monitored and watering times adjusted according to the time of the day with least wind, and perhaps more water being applied to account for the water loss from the wind.
With rapid over-population affecting every city in the country, more and more homes are being built closer together, with the result of creating massive heat traps of bricks, concrete and paving sitting alongside an equally hot road. Sometimes a lawn is put into such environments to create a "touch of green". It's really a bad choice as the soil will continue to dry out very quickly, as well as the lawn suffering from massive amounts of heat. In these situations it would be best to increase watering times and / or frequency as required.