Why The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence

I am sure you have heard that saying – “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Often, it’s true. There is, however, a purely scientific, botanic, or just plain gardener’s reason behind it.

The reason why grass on one side of a fence can be greener than on the other, even though they are the same grass types, is because of the sun. The fence will act as a shade barrier, casting one side in full shade in the morning and the other side in full shade in the afternoon. Now I know some will argue that each side of the fence still gets at least six hours of full sun each day, and they do. However, it’s not how much sun they get, it’s the quality of that sunlight.

The morning sun is fairly benign. It is slowly warming the day and it can take until quite late in the morning for the air temperature to have risen significantly.  The afternoon sun on the other hand is in full blaze. Air temperatures have risen to their maximum for the day, and the sunlight is quite strong. If you compare UV strengths, UV rays become most intense around 10am and don’t abate until around 3pm. This means the sunny afternoon side of the fence gets more UV light than the sunny morning side.

Other issues come into play. In the morning, your lawn has to battle through any dew before it receives direct sunlight. Although it is in the sun for six or more hours, it is not gaining the most benefit  for six hours. So which side will grow better? The side that receives the afternoon sun. Can you change this? Short of knocking down the fence, only by changing your grass type.

Using a grass type that likes shade, or semi-shade, will thicken and increase the quality of your lawn if it’s on the sunny morning side of the fence. Use more of this seed closer to the fence and slowly decrease that’s seed concentration the further away from the fence you get. This follows the behavior of the sun as it comes over the fence. The grass furthest away from the fence will get the most sunlight.

Use a lawn care tool to prepare the area, sow in some shade loving grass seed and water well. Within weeks you’ll have a great looking lawn, and guess what – the grass won’t be greener on the other side of the fence!



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