Gardening Tips: August 8, 2012

Dyed grass?
No, the title of this week’s column is not a misprint. I recently heard about a technique for having your lawn look as green and vibrant now as it was back in May. Although parts of our region have received four inches of rain, or more, from the recent thunderstorms, much of the rain ran off before it really was absorbed by the soil. Some places, such as my hillside, only got one inch or so. Some lawns are turning green once again as a result, but others will remain brown until cooler, wetter weather arrives.

My lawn never actually turned brown during the drought but that is primarily due to the fact that what I refer to as my lawn, is really mostly weeds such as red and white clover, shepherd’s purse, wild thyme, wild strawberry, plantain, dandelions, hawkweeds, wild daisies, ground ivy, dollar weed, chickweed and a few others that I have not bothered to identify.

Drought tolerant
It is true that many broadleaved weeds are far more tolerant of dry conditions than our exotic, northern turf grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass. It may surprise some of you that bluegrass is an exotic species and not at all native to Kentucky or anywhere else in the United States. Oh well, Vermont’s famous Green Mountain coffee, found in many convenience markets, is certainly not grown by our New England neighbor! Coffee trees are tropical, of course, and grow nowhere in the upper U.S.

For many years I have known that occasionally parts of golf courses and athletic fields are sometimes dyed green or even blue. (Blue colored grass looks good on TV) From a distance it is really hard to tell if the grass is really green or dyed green. Lately, some lawn care companies, understandably suffering from lack of business are offering a service to dye your lawn a pretty shade of green for about $125 for an average (5,000 square foot) sized lawn.

I really don’t care what color my “lawn” is but I must admit I prefer green to brown in general and especially in the summertime. We suffer from six months or more of brown landscape each year and many of us rejoice in the brief interlude of greenness we expect now. I did a quick Google search and found that you can buy these grass dyes on the Internet and perhaps even locally, for about $60 a gallon which is enough to do an average lawn.

Safe for environment
The dyes used are harmless and nontoxic, much like food coloring. It is sprayed on with a garden sprayer only when the grass is completely dry and rain is not expected for at least a few hours. It is reported to last for a month or even more but will eventually wash off harmlessly. I imagine when the grass begins to grow again there might be a slight color difference creating a two-tone turf until the dyed grass is mowed off.

I think this is a pretty great idea for people who want green-colored grass. It is far more ecologically friendly than irrigation and I can see it being very helpful at treating yellow “doggy spots” caused by dog urine. Green lawns are surely more aesthetically appealing than brown and if a party or outdoor wedding is planned, this will make for much nicer photos!