One of my favorite things to do while running and biking is to observe all the colors around me. Red sunrises, orange sunsets, yellow flowers, green grass, blue skies, indigo twilight skies, and violet wild flowers are some of nature’s greatest art. When seeing these colors, my mind often wonders about how they come to be.
This week, I found myself marveling at the green in the grass. All around my yard, in the fields that surround my house, and throughout my neighborhood, green dominates the landscape in spring. While running the other day, I noticed certain parts of the fields are greener than others, which made me wonder why and how this occurs.
What Makes Grass Green
Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants their green color. Grass uses chlorophyll to catch rays of sunlight used for photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, light energy is transformed into chemical energy. The light energy is captured and used to convert water, minerals, and carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen (O2) and energy-rich organic compounds.
In the case of grass, chlorophyll molecules absorb blue and red light easily, but reflect green light. This allows the grass to appear green.
Why There Are Different Greens
Different shades of green are made possible by several factors including:
- Root system establishment
- Nitrogen imbalance
- Soil conditions
- Water conditions
- Plant types
An established root system creates a deeper green color in grass and other plants. Plants with less established root systems are typically lighter in color and more affected by variations in rain patterns.
Spring rains can often case nitrogen imbalance in the soil that roots feed upon. Once the weather patterns level out a bit, the grass and plants adjust, allowing for less color variation. Soil and plant types also play a part. Depending upon the minerals in the soil and the type of grass, different combinations produce different shades of green.
Enjoying Seasonal Greens
Spring is by far one of my favorite times of year. The lushness of the landscape and the many different colors provide inspiration and energy to my being. Personally, I don’t mind what shade of green the grass takes. All that matters to me is being able to be outside enjoying the season.
While some people get fussy about the color of their lawns and apply chemicals, I prefer to let nature take its course for the most part. I do spread pelletized lime in the middle of March to help moderate soil pH levels and mulch my leaves into the lawn in the fall to help control weeds. Both methods are effective, though they do require patience to see results.
As with many things in nature, patience and perspective are key. In my experience, observing the changes around me has helped appreciate the wonder of nature and the many lessons it teaches us each day.
Resources and Related Links
Chlorophyll – http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/chlorophyll-chlorophyllin
Chlorophyll molecules and light absorption – http://www.livescience.com/32496-why-is-grass-green.html
Factors affecting green shades – http://www.ever-greenlawncare.com/?p=426
Organic compounds – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/431954/organic-compound
Pelletized lime – http://www.bakerlime.com/products/bakers-premier-pellets/
Photosynthesis – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/458172/photosynthesis
Soil pH levels – http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/liming