Lawn Care: Grass That Grows In Full Shade | Bioadvanced (2024)

Lawn Care: How To Grow Grass In The Shade

One of the most difficult situations homeowners face is growing grass in the shade. It's a battle you can win, if you cover the right bases in your lawn care regimen. Learn how to succeed in growing grass in shady places.

The type of deciduous tree greatly influences grass-growing success. Hard maples have dense canopies and shallow roots that make growing anything beneath them a real chore. Grass won't make it. Dogwood and oak also offer tough growing conditions beneath their branches. Other trees — including locust, sycamore, ornamental crabapples and pears, elms and many more — happily host a carpet of lawn at their feet.

Will grass grow in the shade?

Most lawn grasses need four to six hours of direct sun to survive. Some shade-tolerant grass types grow as long as light hits that four-hour quota – and that light doesn't have to be full sun. Four to six hours of dappled or filtered sunlight can fuel the growth of a healthy lawn.

What types of grass grow better in shade?

For cool-season areas, grass that grows in shade would be Ryegrass and Fine and Tall Fescues, as they offer the most shade tolerance. They require four hours of sun minimum to survive. Warm-season grasses that grow in some shade include Zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass.

When shopping for grass seed, choose shade-tolerant blends adapted to your region. Buy shade grass seed that is a blend or mix of different grass; shade tolerant mixes make up for each other—if one type fails to make it, another might. In this case, it is not budget-wise to skimp on seed quality in order to save money. Pay for a top-quality blend.

Could pruning my trees improve the light beneath them?

Removing lower limbs allows sunlight to reach soil beneath. Pruning interior branches to open the tree canopy permits more sunlight to pass through the tree's interior to the ground beneath. Removing interior branches also enhances air circulation to the center of the tree, which improves tree health. Hire a certified arborist to prune large trees. Learn the basics of pruning trees. Learn when to prune trees.

Do I need to mow grass differently in shady spots?

In shade, mow 1/2 to 1 inch higher than in sunny lawn areas. This gives individual grass plants more leaf area to capture the limited sunlight that's available. Try to alternate mowing directions each time you mow.

Avoid scalping shade-grown grass. This happens most frequently in spring, when you haven't raised the mower since the final fall mowing. Shady lawns can't tolerate even one scalping; it thins them and they may not recover. Read more aboutmowing tips for lawn careto get the best result this spring.

I've heard trees create dry shade. Does that mean I have to water lawn under a tree more than lawn in the sun?

Under a tree, two things occur to create drier soil. First, rainfall doesn't always penetrate the tree canopy to reach soil beneath. Second, tree roots absorb available moisture. As a result, turf beneath a tree needs more frequent irrigation. Water these areas deeply to encourage deep grass roots for a healthy lawn around trees.

Should I water more in other shady areas?

If your shade is caused by a building, you don't need to water more frequently. Grass in shady areas doesn't use water as quickly as their sunny counterparts. Water only when necessary. Learn more about irrigating lawns.

I finally have lawn growing in shady spots, but it's always so thin. Can I do anything about that?

Growing conditions and lawn care for grass are tough in the shade. Aim to eliminate any stress the grass experiences, such as foot traffic. Insert stepping stones to protect grass from being trampled.

You can also overseed as often as once or twice a year, in mid-spring or early fall for cool-season grasses, late spring to early summer for warm-season turf. Don't forget to water after seeding.

Do I fertilize lawn in shady areas the same as the rest of the lawn?

Grasses in shady areas need one-half to two-thirds as much nitrogen as sunny lawns. For lawns beneath trees, fertilize lightly in early spring before trees leaf out, then not again until early fall.

What about weed killers?

To grow grass successfully in shade, you want to minimize stress, which includes limiting herbicide use. If weeds are a problem, make one general broadleaf application in fall. Otherwise, spot-spray weeds with an herbicide as needed. Be sure to read the label to ensure it won't harm trees.

What should I do if grass just won't grow?

If you want greenery, choose a shade-tolerant ground cover that's hardy in your zone. You can also cover bare soil with mulch. Natural materials such as bark, pine straw or wood chips look nice beneath trees. Light-colored mulches show up better in shady spots. Include stepping stones to add interest.

I'm trying to grow lawn beneath a tree. Does the type of tree affect my chances of success?

In general, it's easier to grow grass beneath deciduous trees than evergreens that branch to the ground. Beneath these trees, you're not just dealing with shade, you're also fighting acidic soil, which doesn't favor grass growth. You can grow grass beneath pines with a high canopy, which creates filtered light beneath.

Lawn Care: Grass That Grows In Full Shade | Bioadvanced (2024)

FAQs

Lawn Care: Grass That Grows In Full Shade | Bioadvanced? ›

What types of grass grow better in shade? For cool-season areas, grass that grows in shade would be Ryegrass and Fine and Tall Fescues, as they offer the most shade tolerance. They require four hours of sun minimum to survive. Warm-season grasses that grow in some shade include Zoysiagrass and St.

What grass grows well in full shade? ›

The grasses that grow best in full shade are zoysia grass and hard fescue, and they also grow well in partial shade. Consider alternative ground covers such as moss for full-shade environments with fewer than four hours of direct sunlight.

How to make grass grow without sunlight? ›

Keep grass in shady areas 1/2 to 1 inch taller than in the sunny parts of your yard. This gives each grass blade a greater area to conduct photosynthesis, which is the process that fuels grass growth. Take caution not to scalp shady lawn areas, as they frequently don't recover.

What is dense shade grass? ›

Black Beauty® Dense Shade Grass Seed contains shade-tolerant varieties that will grow well under trees and in up to 70% shade. It is a mixture of primarily turf-type tall fescue grasses, and therefore creates great versatility in shady to partial sun lawns, blends well into sunnier areas, and grows best in drier soils.

What is the fastest growing grass in shade? ›

For deeply-shaded areas that are sorely in need of a quick pick-me-up, perennial ryegrass may save the day. Ryegrass grows fast—it's the fastest grass seed to germinate—and it tolerates heavy foot traffic, and cold, rainy climates. Just know that you'll need to over-seed annually.

What is the best grass seed for deep shade? ›

Tall fescue has deep roots and grows in both areas of sun and shade. Fine Fescue: Fine fescue is included in this mix for many reasons. It grows densely, germinates quickly and has a soft texture. It also does well in tough conditions including shady areas, cold climates and high elevations.

How to overseed a shady lawn? ›

Overseed the thin area with grass seed for shade in the spring and fall. Small areas can be seeded by hand casting, while large areas often benefit from the use of a drop spreader.

Can grass grow under trees? ›

Grass seldom grows well under trees due to the shade. Most types of grass prefer sunlight, which gets blocked out by the shade casted from tree canopies. As trees grow, the amount of shade increases and eventually the grass beneath begins to die. Grass also competes with trees for moisture and nutrients.

What is the easiest grass to grow? ›

The 5 Low Maintenance Grass Types

Fine fescues, including Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Strong Creeping Red Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Hard Fescue, and Sheep Fescue, are the key to achieving a low-maintenance lawn. These five fescue varieties are highly suitable for low-maintenance lawns due to their various advantages.

What happens if grass doesn't get sunlight? ›

Shady lawn areas should be perfect for relaxing on hot summer days, but they are an eyesore when the grass is patchy, discolored, or dead. A lot of shade stunts root growth, weakens shoots and leaves your grass vulnerable to diseases and pests.

What happens to grass if it doesn't receive enough sunlight? ›

Eventually, even an area where grass has always grown well before will no longer get enough sun and grass will die out. This may be caused by one or more trees, large shrubs and even trees on neighboring property.

What not to do when growing grass? ›

Even if you're a first-time lawn grower, you can seed right and avoid these common mistakes:
  1. Planting the wrong type of seed.
  2. Skipping the soil test and recommendations.
  3. Using lime incorrectly or unnecessarily.
  4. Ignoring recommended seeding rates.
  5. Miscalculating your lawn dimensions.
  6. Planting without regard for proper timing.

When should I seed my shade grass? ›

Late summer into early fall is the best time of year to plant grass seed – whether you're starting from scratch or overseeding an existing lawn. The warm soil, the cooling days of fall, and the usually more-regular rainfall make September and October two of the best months for starting new grass.

What is the best grass shade mix? ›

Fine-blade Zoysia varieties tend to do best in shady spots. Fescue (cool season) to the rescue! Thanks to its deep roots, fescue can thrive with only four hours of dappled sun. Fine fescue, tall fescue, red fescue, and Chewings fescue can all thrive in shade.

What is the softest grass in shade? ›

Fine fescues, as the name suggests, have fine-bladed leaves and are among the softest and most lush grasses for bare feet. These finely-bladed grasses are known for doing well in shady areas but aren't great for a lawn with high traffic needs.

Can grass grow in 100% shade? ›

Will grass grow in the shade? Most lawn grasses need four to six hours of direct sun to survive. Some shade-tolerant grass types grow as long as light hits that four-hour quota – and that light doesn't have to be full sun. Four to six hours of dappled or filtered sunlight can fuel the growth of a healthy lawn.

Will Kentucky 31 grow in shade? ›

KY-31 Tall Fescue at a Glance

Cool-season grass suitable for northern and transition zones. Improved heat tolerance over many tall fescue varieties. Tolerant of drought, shade and traffic.

Is Kentucky bluegrass shade-tolerant? ›

Kentucky bluegrass prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade. This species is used widely throughout the U.S. where it is well adapted, but it has a poor summer performance in California in areas with warm to hot temperatures.

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