Let’s face it: Emerald green lawns are not easy to come by. If your lawn has stubborn yellow or brown spots, you might want to consider lawn paint.
Lawn painting is growing in popularity as an easy, affordable, and effective way to turn your lawn as green as the Irish hills without putting in a lot of time or expense.
A creative solution
Lawn painting originated on Hollywood movie sets in the 1950s. The practice soon found its way across industry lines and became popular with golf courses in the southern parts of the country. Here’s why: Turf managers with warm-season grasses had a dilemma. In the fall, some golf courses in the South overseed their warm-season bermudagrass with a cool-season grass to provide winter color and maintain the lines of demarcation along the course. However, overseeding is expensive, and the practice overall is resource-intensive.
Golf course turf managers came across an unlikely solution: painting the grass. The managers started using grass colorant as an alternative to fall overseeding. It provided the color they needed without the costs of seed, fertilizer, water, or extra labor. This eliminated having to restrict parts of the course in the fall and helped the bermuda to recover more quickly in the spring. Over time, the practice has become more widespread in the golf and athletic industries and has migrated over to the residential market, as well.
Uses and benefits
Think of lawn paint (also called turf paint) as airbrushed makeup for your lawn. It hides the discolorations, aging, and climate stress and brings back the pleasing green color you desire. Depending on your needs, it can be as light as a tint or as heavy as a full-coverage concealer.
Like cosmetics for your skin, it’s a temporary fix for dormant grass or drought-stricken summer lawns. If your grass has brown spots or bare areas, seek out solutions that will correct, not just conceal, those fixable problems.
Lawn paint offers a myriad of benefits to homeowners and industry professionals. Here are a few uses and benefits for lawn paint:
✓ Covers brown or yellow grass and dead spots, including:
- Dog urine spots
- Disease or fungus
- Drought-stricken lawns and dead grass
✓ Alternative to overseeding warm-season lawns in fall (provides winter color for dormant grass)
✓ Beautifies athletic fields and professional turf
✓ Beautifies residential lawns
✓ Alternative to artificial grass
✓ Instant curb appeal
✓ Helps homeowners and realtors in the selling process
✓ A favorite of property managers
✓ More affordable than overseeding
✓ Non-toxic: pet- and child-friendly
✓ Fast application process
✓ Some products last up to three months
✓ Reapply as needed
✓ Great for DIYers
✓ Many pros can do this (if you are not a DIYer)
✓ Helps with HOA compliance
✓ A great tool during drought or watering restrictions
✓ May help with heat or cold stress
Did you know that you can also buy mulch paint and pine straw paint? Some products recommend painting the mulch and pine straw at the time you put it on the ground as a preventive against early fading. If your existing mulch or pine straw is in good shape, you can freshen its color with these products, as well.
Whether you are a hard-core DIYer or are new to yard work, painting the lawn is within your reach. You can easily buy products from Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe’s, or you can search online to buy from specialty athletic suppliers.
Common brands include:
- Just Scentsational
- Green Lawnger
- Lawn Miracle
Or, you can make the product yourself. Yes, this is a true DIY endeavor. According to this article, you can make your own lawn paint with a little liquid fertilizer, Epsom salts (optional), and green food coloring.
Most store brands contain oils and pigments derived from stone, so both homemade and store-bought paints are people and pet-friendly.
How to apply:
- Mow and rake your lawn.
- Choose a day without wind or rain.
- Put on gloves and paint clothes.
- Pour the mixture (store-bought or homemade) into a hand-pump garden sprayer. Dilute according to the package instructions.
(Tip: Buy a new pump sprayer and dedicate it for this purpose.)
- Start spraying until all areas are covered. Start in a corner and work your way out of the lawn area. Have a hose handy to wash off any overspray on hard surfaces (or use cardboard or drop cloths to prevent this as you spray next to driveways, bricks, or walkways). The directions should tell you how far away from the grass to keep your wand. You can take a circular or back and forth motion — experiment and see what offers the best coverage for your lawn.
- Let the paint set until dry. Some instructions recommend letting it cure for up to 24 hours.
- Clean out your sprayer.
- Repeat every few months as needed.
Pro Tip: Put a piece of cardboard along brick borders, driveways, and curbs to prevent overspray onto the hard surfaces.
The performance of your lawn paint will depend on a few variables:
- Product formulation
- Lawn color at the time of application
- Moisture level
- Air temperature
- Dilution rates
According to the NCSU Extension Service, turf pigments perform better when intended as a color booster on fading lawns; turf colorants provide more coverage and perform better on dormant, brown grass.
The study notes that the easiest way to determine the difference between a pigment and a colorant is to look at the application rates on the product label. Pigments are usually applied at rates of one-half gallon or less per acre; colorants are applied at a rate of 3-10 gallons per acre. (Note: Terms like pigment, colorant, and paint are sometimes used interchangeably.)
As you can see, the amount of square footage you can cover with any given product will vary greatly depending on its rate of dilution. A quick online search results in products that range from one quart to one gallon and cost from $23-$84. These products state that they cover from 1,000 to 12,500 square feet and are available in ready-to-use and concentrated formulas.
You may have to experiment to find what color you like best, your preferred dilution rate, and how often you need to reapply to get that natural green color until the lawn comes out of dormancy.
Hire a pro
You may find local businesses that specialize in lawn painting. These businesses thrive in drought-stricken areas and cities with watering restrictions. If you can’t find a business that specializes in lawn painting, ask your landscaper or local handyman if he would be willing to take on this task.
Green with envy
At the end of the day, a green lawn is a happy lawn. And a happy lawn makes a happy homeowner. Lawn paint is a great short-term solution for those annoying blemishes that pop up from time to time or can be a viable long-term solution for dormant grasses during the winter. Whatever your needs, lawn paint is an easy, affordable solution to some of these common lawn care woes.
If you’re looking to take a non-cosmetic approach, check out our articles on fertilizing, mowing, and overseeding to help keep your lawn looking its best.
Still not sure about painting your lawn yourself? You can always hire a local lawn care professional to get the job done. They also can help you with your other lawn care needs.
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