50 Shades of Green – Why is My Grass Different Shades of Green?

Green thumbs worldwide will agree that grass sporting different shades of green can be a landscaping eyesore and cause for concern. There may be a concern that something is wrong with grass that’s different shades of green.

What does different shades of green grass mean? Is it a disease or something less upsetting?

The reason for varying shades of green in a lawn can be tricky to pin down. For starters, it could be as simple as your watering pattern (if it’s uneven) or something more sinister like chemical runoff or root rot wreaking havoc on your lawn.

Knowing how to determine the underlying cause of your patchy-colored lawn will help you to treat the problem and get on top of it.

In this article, you’ll learn the various top reasons why lawns are different shades of green and what you can do about it.

Why is My Grass Patchy with Different Shades of Green?

Determining the underlying cause of different shades of green in grass may include a process of elimination. For example, if the grass is deficient in water, light, and nutrients, these are the most common causes of patchy lawns.

But wait, there’s more! A darker side to patchy lawn, some might say.

And that’s the activity of parasites like mold, webworms, and thrips hard at work, ruining your lawn’s appearance. And as you might have guessed, these parasites cause patchy-colored lawns.

The good news?

With the correct knowledge, lawn care tools, and approach, you can get your grass that’s different shades of green back to a lush, green color!

Let’s get to the bottom of the reasons of patchy grass.

Grass can have both light green and dark green patches, so we’re going to break it down into each of these varieties of patchy lawn problems!

automatic garden lawn sprinkler watering grass

Causes of Light Green Patches in Lawn

Here’s the uncomfortable truth about why grass has different shades of green…

A lawn with light green patches can be harder to diagnose and treat than dark green patches. Not because it’s an unknown cause but because there are many causes for light green grass.

If you’ve got light green patches, fear not. You can break it down with the following information and figure out the problem.

Distinct Lack of Nitrogen

Grass fertilizers all include nitrogen for a reason; it’s what grass wants and needs to flourish. Nitrogen helps grass heal, boost energy and grow healthily. Grass with no access to nitrogen becomes weak and may not stand up to attacking diseases.

This could be the problem if you haven’t fertilized your grass in a while. Choose a high-nitrogen slow-release fertilizer, which should bring about a change in grass color pretty quickly.

Not too keen on constantly fertilizing? No problem – we have a trick for you!

To help your lawn retain nitrogen without having to add constant fertilizer, leave the clippings from mowing on your lawn during the last few mow events in winter, leading into your first mow in spring.

Not Enough Light

Sunlight is life for all plants and grass.

Here’s the deal…

Some grass types survive in low light, but not all of them do their best if they’re in semi-shade. To ensure that your grass gets enough sunshine, cut low-hanging tree branches back, trim hedges, and try to open up your yard with some pruning and maintenance.

Here’s a top tip!

Figure out what type of grass you have, and then you will know its sunlight requirements. If you have a grass type that needs full sun and cannot provide that, you may need to consider switching to a different kind of grass that does well in shady areas.

Chemical Burn

This isn’t a common reason grass may be patchy in color, but it’s certainly an option. However, a chemical burn can result when too much fertilizer is used, or excessive lawn treatment spray is used.

Always check the usage instructions. If you used the product incorrectly, you need to dilute the chemical. Water the grass for half an hour, evenly. Repeat the process every few days as the lawn dries. You can keep doing this until your next mow.

Waterlogged Lawn

If your lawn is standing in water or soggy mud, it will lead to root rot. Soggy roots can develop rot or fungus. You may even find that there’s mold attacking the plant. If your lawn has a tendency to trap water, only water when it dries out. Proper drainage is essential.

Here’s a way around those waterlogged areas.

Fill in the low areas or zones where water seems to pool. You can fill it with soil and water-loving plants.

Mowing Damage

The ideal lawn length should never be below 2”. In fact, if you let your lawn grow to around 3”, it will retain moisture and nutrients better.

But what if you’ve already cut your lawn too short?

Uh oh! That’s a bit of an immediate problem, but the good news is that you can feed it lightly with fertilizer and then provide more water than usual until it has grown back up to 3”.

man mowing green lawn near pond

Parasites, Mold & Fungus

Excess water in your lawn can lead to mildew, fungus, and mold development. Much the same, thrips and webworms can cause the grass to lose the ability to absorb moisture and nutrients, leading to a color change.

Here’s what to look out for…

Keep an eye open for spores on the grass, small grey dots on the hairs, web-like strands, or cocoons. This is a sure sign of infestation.

Fungicide and insecticide are the most effective courses of action to take.

Lack of Moisture

If you’re not watering your lawn enough, the driest parts may turn lighter green and even progress to brown or yellow patches. Dry ground should get deep watering twice a week in hot weather – and that’s in addition to regular daily watering.

Keep an eye on your lawn’s moisture with a moisture meter. If you struggle with very sandy, dry soil. Turn organic matter into the soil, which will help it retain moisture better.

Your Grass May Be Just Fine!

Woah, what?

Yes, you read right! Some grass is lighter in color and may just be invading your regular lawn. Take, for example, Poa annua. This grass loves to invade the lawn and is noticed by its light green patches.

Other grass types that are lighter green include Zoysia and Centipede grass.

What to do? Simply identify the grass that’s mingling with your primary grass and remove it. Removing it by hand is probably the least damaging, but you can also use a chemical spray.

Yellow lawn mower on grass

Causes of Dark Green Patches in Lawn

It’s interesting to note that there are more notable underlying causes of light green patches in the lawn than there is for dark green patches!

Nevertheless, here are the most common causes of dark green patches on lawn:

Disease or Root Rot Below the Surface

Root rot doesn’t just cause lighter grass patches but can also cause darker patches. Root rot can occur due to standing in excess water or the presence of insects, pests, bacterial diseases, and fungal infections.

Solving root rot can be tricky. You may need to hire a professional lawn care expert to assist with diagnosing the problem and coming up with a viable solution.

Fairy Rings and Fungus

This is probably the most common reason for dark patches of grass on the lawn, and it’s a result of fungus developing on the top of the roots of the grass, called the thatch layer. This is most common in grass types that produce above-ground roots (stolons).

When the thatch layer is full of fungus, it will develop a patch that usually has mushrooms growing around the outer edges. This is called a fairy ring – and it can spread quite quickly.

Tips for Keeping Your Lawn All One Color

The well-known saying “prevention is better than cure” rings true regarding keeping lawns lush, healthy, and all one color.

And it’s easier than you think! All you need is the know-how and consistency.

Here’s how:

1. Be Thoughtful About Watering

If your lawn isn’t performing as you’d hoped, watering should be on the top of your checklist to figure out the reason. Too much, too little, and poorly timed watering can all lead to patchy grass.

When to Water & How to do it

If you have an established lawn, aim to provide an inch of water each week. Of course, you don’t need to water your lawn if it’s raining.

Long, deep and infrequent watering is the best approach to lawn watering. The soil must be thoroughly soaked once weekly, encouraging roots to grow deep and strong. If you’re only watering the top surface, the roots will spread close to the surface, resulting in weak grass.

The best time to water your lawn is between 4 am, and 10 am, before the day’s heat takes hold. Then, the soil will have enough time to absorb the moisture and nutrients fully.

Should you water at night? No, it’s not the best idea, as it won’t dry out sufficiently and can lead to the grass standing in excess water, resulting in fungal growth and root rot.

green garden hose sprinkler sprays water over grass

Be Conscious of How Much Water You Use

Overwatering can lead to runoff, which doesn’t help your lawn. Pay attention to possible runoff and stop watering if you notice it.

Shorter watering periods may be required if you notice a lot of pooling and runoff. Aerating your soil can also help you not waste water and ensure that the water is making it to the lawn’s roots.

2. Be Consistent with Cleaning Up After Pets

Dog and cat waste on the lawn will cause patchy colors, leading to dead patches if left to sit on the lawn. You can invest in a good poop scoop or use water to flush the waste away.

3. Mow Your Lawn Correctly

Here’s something many people don’t know…

If you don’t mow your lawn correctly, it can lead to a die-off and patchy lawn.

Correct mowing techniques lead to a healthy, green lawn.

Look up the ideal lawn length for the type of grass you’re growing. In the summer, leave the lawn a little longer so that it can retain more moisture and withstand foot traffic.

As a rule of thumb, don’t cut off more than 1/3 of your lawn’s length. And ensure that your blades are sharp, as blunt blades can stress lawns which may lead to patchiness.

Don’t mow a wet lawn, as wet clippings can cause clumps and suffocate the lawn beneath it.

mowing lawn with riding lawnmower tractor and attached spreader

4. Fertilize with Care

It’s best not to try and force quick growth of your lawn using fertilizer. Instead, follow the recommended fertilizing instructions for the type of lawn you’re growing. Don’t over-fertilize, as this can lead to different lawn colorations.

5. Select the Ideal Grass Type for Your Property

Sometimes having an even-colored lawn is as simple as choosing a type of grass that will do well in the environment you’re able to provide.

For example, if your grass is in full shade, you need to choose grass that thrives in the shade. Much the same, if your grass needs full sun, you should aim for grass that thrives in the sun.

For a point of reference, Bermuda grass is a good all-rounder, while Zoysia grass does really well in shady areas.


Grass can become patchy – either light green or dark green – for many reasons.

Discolored lawns result from poor lighting, chemical burn, incorrect mowing, parasites and mold, lack of moisture, too much moisture, and disease.

You can overcome most of these problems by ensuring that your lawn gets sufficient light for the grass type you’re growing, incorporating a regular watering schedule, fertilizing correctly, and mowing correctly.

If you’ve found a method of keeping grass even colored, let us know about it! Share your views and ideas in the comments below!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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