One of the major problems for many homeowners when growing turfgrass is how to grow in the shade. Approximately 20 – 25% of all grassy areas are found in the shade. It might not always be a good idea to try and maintain a beautiful lawn growth in the shade but the following tips may help.
Be sure and understand your growing conditions
Remember that any grass, no matter how shade tolerant will need at least 50% sunlight or a minimum of four hours a day exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. While it is true that pruning the lower 8 – 10 feet of a tree will provide more sunshine to a shaded area, it may not be the best option. If it is not possible to achieve the minimal sunlight required you will want to switch to something more shade tolerant as a ground cover.
Be sure and understand what will be the most shade tolerant grass for your area
Each and every grass species has a different requirement. If you have a warm climate lawn your best options in order are: St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, Zoysia grass, Bahia grass, Carpet grass and Bermuda grass. If you have a cool season lawn your options are: Fine fescue, Bent grass, Rough bluegrass, any shade-tolerant Kentucky blue grass, Tall fescue, Perennial ryegrass and any non-shade tolerant Kentucky bluegrass. Always check with your local lawn care experts at garden suppliers and sod producers for their recommendations.
Try and select any trees you plant so that they will complement your lawn
Anything with either a dense canopy and or a shallow root system should be avoided. Examples of dense canopy would be: Magnolias, Oaks, Maples, Elms and Sweet Gum trees. Those with shallow roots include: Willows, Beeches and Maples. Any of the open canopy variety is good and would include: Pines, Birches, Poplars, Gingko’s and Locusts.
Make sure that your turf maintenance schedule will maximize your chances of creating a fine lawn
Remember to water only in the early morning to avoid excessive evaporation. Water deeply, about enough to moisten the soil to about 5 – 8 inches deep. By doing this you will reduce the chances of disease. Always mow with sharp blades to avoid damaging the grass and cut to a minimum 2 1⁄2 – 3 inches in height. You will want to cut at a higher than normal height, as most shade tolerant grasses will grow more upright in order to get the most out of the available sunlight. When fertilizing, use only half the amount of nitrogen as the rest of your lawn and increase the potassium. The extra potassium will increase the disease resistance and increase the wear tolerance of your shaded grass. If at all possible avoid applying herbicides so as to not add another stressor to an already difficult situation.
Because shaded grass is more susceptible to traffic damage you should reduce this as much as possible
By limiting any heavy use you will protect the shallower root system of your shaded grass. However, you should bear in mind that the lifespan of any shaded grass is limited and strongly consider a simple resodding when it does finally fail. Doing this every 2 – 5 years may be the simplest option to a great looking lawn in the shade.
To get more advice call our team on (07) 3114 8281. You can also to pop in and order in person at our sales office on 1/243 Bradman Street, Acacia Ridge. The office opens Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm and Saturday 7am to 12pm.
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