You use turf pigments, turf paint and colourants to improve the appearance of discoloured or patchy turf, to match the colour of new sod with existing turf, or to change the colour of the turf for aesthetic or event purposes. It is now common to use these on sports fields, golf courses, parks, and other outdoor areas.

It’s important to use turf colourants that are specifically formulated for use on turf and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Some colourants can have a temporary effect, others can be permanent, and some can cause damage to the turf if not applied correctly. Many will also stain clothes and shoes if you use them when it is too cold or do not give them time to dry.


Sydney University Kikuyu grounds after being sprayed with Vertmax pigment

Turf managers commonly use turf pigment and paint for improving the appearance of sports turf areas. The reason for this are:

  • They are cheaper than oversowing;
  • You don’t have the issue of having to remove an overseeded grass from warm season turf;
  • They have plant health benefits. e.g Bayer with their Stressgard® technology.

Available pigments include Vertmax®, Vertmax Duo®, Green Pig®, Ryder®, Sensi-Pro®, and BASF ‘s Vision Pro®. These all contain copper phthalocyanine as the active. The amount of this a product contains determines the application rate. 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. Here is our range of Vertmax turf pigments.

Why use a turf pigment?

Turf pigments offer a low-cost alternative to overseeding warm season grasses. There are three main reasons why these have become popular:

  • The increase in the cost of seed;
  • As plant breeders develop more drought tolerant varieties it has become more difficult to transition these out as they tend not to die off when temperatures increase;
  • They aid plant growth by increasing surface temperature.

In the case of Vertmax® Duo, it has a secondary benefit of containing plant health additives that stimulate root growth and increase stress tolerance.

Types of turf pigment and paint.

Turf colourants are dyes, pigments or paints. Turf paints contain solvent, pigment, binder, and additives plus up to 40% binder. In contrast turf pigments have a lot less binder than this and are a suspension of very fine particles of ground colouring matter which forms a paint film that bonds to the surface. Dyes are water soluble and their use is common in spray indicators.

Colourant Influence on Turf Colour.

Turf pigments tend to be darker in colour, and are often a green or blue colour. This is especially the case if you use them on dormant turf. Application rates vary so much due to the amount of binder that they contain. The higher the amount of binder, the lower the pigment content and the higher the rate of application.

Innovations such as stickers and adjuvants in the formulation have led to increases in longevity and rainfastness. Vertmax® with QDT (Quick Dry Technology), contains both of these and so lasts around a month when you use it on dormant couch.

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

What do turf colourants do?

Turf pigments improve turf appearance and act as a screen for UV and PAR light. Once you apply these the pigment allows the transmission of a reduced intensity of PAR light and absorbs or reflects UV light.

Vertmax Duo® offers the following benefits:

  • Firstly, it increases radiation absorbance;
  • Secondly, it decreases light reflectance;
  • Thirdly, it increases photosynthesis;
  • It results in anincrease in root growth and lateral branching and finally it
  • Increases stress tolerance.
Vertmax Duo results in an increase in lateral root branching

The LHS is the untreated control. The RHS is treated with Vertmax Duo and shows increased root branching.


There are two main negatives.

  • 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 turf colourants.

There are a number of spray on products available to keep turfgrass green. These mask light coloured or dormant grass and any damage and you can use these on all turf areas such as lawns, sports fields, or golf courses.

Application Conditions for turf pigment and paint

The following can have an impact on the results achieved when applying these:

  • The underlying turf colour;
  • The presence of surface moisture i.e. a dew;
  • The air temperature.

If the turf is dormant i.e. couch in winter, applying these will make the turf look better. Best results are occur if you apply before dormancy as the colour of actively growing turf will enhance any colourant application.

The presence of moisture is beneficial if the turfgrass is dormant or nearly dormant. As the turfgrass becomes dormant, the leaf tissue becomes dryer. Adding supplemental water (irrigation) increases leaf moisture. This helps protect the colourant from potential absorption into the leaf tissue, increases the colourant’s coverage and improves colour. This especially the case with high viscosity products.

Many colourants do not dry or stick very well if you apply them at low temperatures. This should be front of mind when using these to avoid staining of shoes etc. Vertmax® overcomes this issue by the incorporation of a sticker plus a spreader adjuvant to give more even coverage.


What are the pigments in turf?

Turf pigments are the pigments or colourings found in grasses and other turf plants. These pigments are responsible for the colour of the grass and can be used to enhance or change the colour of turf. The main pigments found in turf are chlorophyll, carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids.

Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives grass its green colour. It is responsible for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy. Chlorophyll is found in the chloroplasts of plant cells and has magnesium as its central atom.

Carotenoids are pigments that give turf a yellow or orange hue. They are responsible for absorbing excess light energy and protecting the plant from damage. Carotenoids are also known to have antioxidant properties.

Anthocyanins are pigments that give turf a red or purple colour. They are produced by plants as a response to environmental stress, such as high light intensity or drought.

Flavonoids are pigments that are also 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 environmental conditions it is growing in.

What are turf colourants and pigments?

Turf pigments refer to the pigments or colourings found in grasses and other turf plants. These pigments include chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green colour in grass, as well as carotenoids, which can give turf a yellow or orange hue. Other pigments such as anthocyanins and flavonoids can also be present in turf and can give it other colours such as red or purple. The presence and concentration of these pigments can vary depending on the grass type and its environmental conditions.

Turf colourant or turf paint 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.