After tuning into the Masters next week, many golf fans might ask themselves two questions:
What does it take to land a tee time at Augusta National?
And, how can I get my grass that green at home?
Since we can only assist with the second, we put the question to Dan Cutler, superintendent of Rio Verde Country Club, in Arizona, and co-host of From the Jingweeds, a podcast devoted to the turf-care trade.
Here are his 5 tips for keeping your yard the color of the turf at Augusta — without overwatering.
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1. Add iron
If your yard has sickly looking yellow patches, there’s a good chance that the grass is low in iron, an essential element for producing chlorophyll. On the golf course, Cutler and his crew apply an iron spray to address this problem, and the results are evident overnight: the next day the grass is a lush, dark green.
You can pick up iron supplements at your local lawn care store, sometimes as a spray but more often in granular form. Because a little iron goes a long way, follow the package instructions carefully to avoid overdosing. The change might not come as quickly as what Cutler and Co. get on the course, but you should see a marked difference in a matter of days.
2. Paint the grass
Instead of overseeding when their grass goes dormant, some superintendents make like Michelangelo and paint their courses with commercial colorants. Grass paint is available for home use, too (there are even DYI formulas for it, using fertilizer, Epsom salt and food dye). Just be mindful: the job can be messy, so take your time. And be sure to use a product that is certified as safe for kids and pets.
3. Let it grow
As millions of balding men have learned, letting hair grow longer can make it look better (cheesy comb-overs being the exception). Something similar is true of grass. The tighter you cut it, the less surface area of leaves you have as cover.
The answer? Don’t mow so low. Let the grass get to 2-and-a-half to 3-inches high. “You’ll have more leaf cover, and your lawn will look lusher and greener,” Cutler says. What’s more, he notes, the more top growth on your lawn, the deeper the root systems in your grass. And the deeper the roots, the healthier the turf.
Many warm-season grasses, like Bermuda, are lime green in color, and then, as fall sets in, they turn a dormant brown. If that’s the case in your yard, you could overseed with a cool-season turf like ryegrass or bluegrass. It will take more time and effort (and more water) than leaving your lawn to slumber through the winter. But those cool-season grasses won’t just cover up the dormant Bermuda. They’re also a naturally darker shade of green.
5. Have a long-term care plan
Nothing wrong with quick, cosmetic fixes. But there’s no substitute for healthy, long-term maintenance practices, which can vary widely, depending on climate, soil type, grass type, and more. Educate yourself. Consult with an expert at your local lawn care store. Learn when and how much to mow and water. Adopt a smart aeration and fertilizing schedule. None of this will turn your grass green overnight. But it will keep it so over the long haul.