You use turf pigment, colourants, and grass paint to improve the appearance of turf areas. The reason for this is:

  • They cost less than overseeding;
  • You don’t have the issue of having to remove over-seeded grass from warm-season turf;
  • You get an immediate result;
  • They have plant health benefits. e.g Bayer with their Stressgard® technology.


Sydney University Kikuyu grounds after being sprayed with Vertmax pigment and grass paint

Types of turf pigments, dyes, paints & colourants

Turf colourants are dyes, pigments, or paints. Grass Paint contain a solvent, a pigment, additives, and up to 40% binder.

Turf pigments have a lot less binder than this and are a suspension of very fine particles of colouring material. When you apply this to a leaf it forms a paint film that bonds to the surface.

Dyes are water-soluble and these are often in spray indicators.

Available turf paint type products include Vertmax®, Vertmax Duo®, Green Pig®, Ryder®, Sensi-Pro®, and BASF ‘s Vision Pro®. These are all based on copper pigments and the amount a product contains determines its rate of use. To better understand how these products perform we will use work from North Carolina State University and more recently in Sydney, Australia by Gilba Solutions.

Colourant Influence on Turf Colour.

Turf pigments tend to be a darker green or blue colour which is especially the case on dormant turf. Application rates vary due to the amount of binder that they contain as the higher the amount of this, the lower the pigment content and the higher the rate of application.

The presence of stickers and adjuvants has led to increases in longevity and rain fastness. Vertmax® with QDT (Quick Dry Technology), contains both of these and so lasts around a month when you use it on a dormant couch.

Vertmax turf pigment on golf grrens and couch sports turf 1L/Ha

What do turf colourants do?

The use of Vertmax Duo® has these benefits:

  • It increases light absorbance and reflectance;
  • It increases the rate of photosynthesis;
  • You get an increase in root growth and lateral root branching and
  • It improves the ability of the turf to fight against stress.
Vertmax Duo results in an increase in lateral root branching


There are two main negatives when you use grass paint.

  • They can permanently stain concrete and clothes if you do not follow the label instructions and
  • They don’t give a harder wearing turf in contrast to overseeding.
Differences between grass paint and turf pigments.

Getting the best results when using turf pigments, turf colorants and grass paint.

The following effect the results when you use these:

  • The existing turf colour when they are first used;
  • If the turf is wet i.e. a dew is present and
  • The air temperature when you apply them.

If the turf is dormant i.e. couch in winter, applying these improves the turf’s appearance. If you apply these before the turf goes dormant you will get the best results as the colour of actively growing turf will enhance any colourant application.

The presence of moisture helps if turfgrass is dormant or about to become dormant. As the turf becomes dormant, the leaf tissue becomes dryer, and so irrigating increases leaf moisture and helps to protect the turf colourant from absorbing into the leaf tissue. This increases the colourant’s coverage and improves colour which is especially the case with highly viscous products.

Many turf colourants do not dry or stick very well if you apply them in cooler weather, so be aware of this to avoid staining clothes and shoes. Vertmax® avoids this issue by containing a sticker to give a faster drying time plus a nonionic surfactant to give more even coverage.

Research into turf pigments, turf colorants and grass paint.

A 2 year study into turf colorants vs overseeding. 1Hargey, D., Wherley, B., Reynolds, C., White, R., and Parker, G., Performance of Winter Overseeded and Colorant-treated ‘Tifway’ Bermudagrass Receiving Weekly Irrigation and Simulated Traffic, HORTSCIENCE 51(5):580–587. 2016..

  • In both years, differences were detectedseen in % green cover, soil volumetric water content (VWC), % visual turfgrass injury, surface hardness, and % couchgrass transition.
  • % green cover and visual turfgrass injury levels were similar between annual and perennial ryegrass in year 1;
  • In year 2 loss of green cover and greater turfgrass injury were seen in annual ryegrass.
  • Residual benefits of applying colorant in autumn lasted from 2-4 months depending on the year.
  • Overseeding reduced couch spring transition by up to 50% vs untreated and colorant-treated plots.



What are the pigments in turf?

The term turf pigments refers to either the pigments or colourings found in grasses and other turf plants or turf colourants used to mask turf and improve its colour.

The main pigments found in turf are chlorophyll, carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids.

  • Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives grass its green colour and is responsible for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy. It is found in plant cells and has magnesium as its central atom.
  • Carotenoids are pigments that give turf a yellow or orange hue. These are responsible for absorbing excess light energy and protecting the plant from damage. They are also known to have antioxidant properties.
  • Anthocyanins give turf a red or purple colour and are produced by plants in response to environmental stress, such as high light intensity or drought.
  • Flavonoids are pigments are responsible for a range of colors, such as red, purple or blue, and are also known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The presence and concentration of these pigments can vary depending on the species of grass and the environment it is grown in.

What are turf colourants and pigments?

A Turf colourant or turf paint or turf dye is a product that is used to change or enhance the colour of turfgrass. It is typically a liquid which you apply to the turf through a sprayer. The colourant is usually made of organic or inorganic pigments that are safe for use on turf. It is designed to be long-lasting, weather-resistant, and easy to apply.


  • 1
    Hargey, D., Wherley, B., Reynolds, C., White, R., and Parker, G., Performance of Winter Overseeded and Colorant-treated ‘Tifway’ Bermudagrass Receiving Weekly Irrigation and Simulated Traffic, HORTSCIENCE 51(5):580–587. 2016.
Senior Turf Agronomist at Gilba Solutions Pty Ltd | Website | + posts

After Graduating from Newcastle University with an Hons Degree in Soil Science in 1988, Jerry then worked for the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) before emigrating to Australia in 1993.

He followed this by gaining a Grad Dip in Business Managment from UTS and has worked in a number of managment roles for companies as diverse as Samsung Australia, Arthur Yates and Paton Fertilizers.

He has always had a strong affinity with the Australian sports turf industry and as a result he established Gilba Solutions in 1993. Jerry has written over 100 articles and two books on a wide range of topics such as Turf Pesticides and Nutrition which have been published in Australia and overseas.