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How to Grow Grass in a Shaded Area of your Lawn

- May 27, 2020
Most types of grass require at least four hours of direct sunlight each day to remain strong, healthy and green. However, this is not always feasible. Many lawns contain one or more trees, which can create a considerable amount of shaded areas. Areas of the lawn may also be shaded by long patios, gazebos, or other furniture or buildings which create shade.
How to Grow Grass in a Shaded Area of your Lawn

The grass in these shaded areas will need a helping hand to properly grow, or you will be left with weak, thin and hard to manage grass. If you want to learn how to grow grass in a shaded area of your lawn, look no further than this simple, easy-to-read guide. By following these simple steps, you’ll be growing grass underneath your favorite tree in no time!

Choose a cool season grass seed, preferably fine-leaf fescues.


What kind of grass you choose for your shaded area will have a major impact on how easy it is to grow and maintain healthy grass there. When choosing a type of grass, you should look for fine-leaf fescues. These are cool season grasses which are considered the most shade tolerant.

Your grass seed mix for a shady area should contain at least 50% of one or more fine-leaf fescues. There are many types of fine leaf fescues, and it’s important to research which type grows better in your local climate. For example, creeping red fescue grows well in the climate of Kentucky, but may not grow as well in the climate of Maine.

Sow your grass seed in the late summer/early autumn or the mid-spring.


The best time to sow grass seed in a shady area is during late summer and early fall, or mid-spring, around April. If you cannot establish your new grass before mid-fall, it’s best to wait until April. It’s important that your new grass be allowed to mature before the leaves fall from the trees.

This will allow your new grass to be sufficiently well grown when the cold weather sets in, making it stronger and more likely to survive the winter weather. If you do plant your new grass in the fall, take special care to remove leaves or other fall debris daily to keep the growing grass from being smothered.

Practice “shaded area” mowing habits by keeping shaded area grass higher and removing clippings.


Once your shaded area grass is grown, you will need to know how to maintain it properly. Unlike regular lawn grass, shaded area grass should not be cut less than about 3 inches in height. Shaded grass needs a much larger leaf surface to absorb enough nutrients to remain healthy. Additionally, you should always remove the grass clippings from shaded areas.

In non-shaded areas, grass clippings are a great way to organically improve the condition of the grass. But in shaded areas, these clippings will block the light and reduce the amount of nutrition and sunlight absorbed by the grass.

Choose a fertilizer low in nitrogen for your shaded area grass.


You should use a separate fertilizer for the shaded areas of your lawn due to the differing needs of shaded area grass vs. grass in direct sunlight. Grass which is grown in a shaded area need about half the amount of nitrogen as grass which receives full direct sunlight. Using fertilizer with too much nitrogen will increase the likelihood of disease in the shaded grass area of your lawn.

Shaded are grass should be watered only when necessary.


Unlike grass which is exposed to direct sunlight and therefore robbed of moisture daily, grass in shaded areas retains most of its moisture and therefore needs to be watered less. When grass in shaded areas is watered, it should be watered deeply watering lightly or frequently increases the likelihood of shallow roots and grass diseases.

When all else fails, look to alternatives.


Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to grow grass in every shaded area around your lawn. This is the unfortunate reality of living in an area with a partially shaded yard. If your shade is created by trees, you may want to look into removing the tree. However, if this is not an option or you would rather not remove the tree, there are alternatives to grass such as wood chips, gravel, shade tolerant plants, or hardscapes.
 

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