Garden Primer

Can you grow grass in shade?


That depends on how much shade you actually have. Fescue types of grass will tolerate shade better than most grasses. Use a shady blend grass seed and cover with GBO Premium Topsoil to give it a boost, but even shade-tolerant grasses need a certain amount of sunshine to grow. Ultimately, the way you manage your shady lawn is more important than which seed type you select.

Five practices that will help your shade-tolerant grass survive in the shade:

  • First, mow your grass higher. Grass in the shade should be cut approximately 1/2 to 1 inch higher than the grass growing in full sunlight. This will allow more leaf area to intercept the limited amount of sunlight.
  • Second, fertilize less often, at half the normal amount so the grass won't try to grow what it can't support.
  • Third, water more (and deeply) in the hot summer months, so the grass is not stressed by heat.
  • Fourth, selectively prune and thin limbs of heavy shade producing trees to allow more light to reach your lawn. Remove all limbs below ten feet. Rake and remove leaves or needles before they accumulate.
  • Finally, try to minimize traffic and activities in the shaded grass areas during the summer months. This will reduce the wear stress on the turf. If the grass is in a path where traffic cannot be avoided, place stepping-stones or pine bark to create a trail.

If you combine these suggestions, you should notice a much healthier lawn. If none of this works, consider replacing your shaded area with shade-loving flowers, groundcover, or mulch.

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