Growing a lush, green lawn in shade can be challenging because most turf grasses need a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight daily. When you select a specialized shade-tolerant grass blend for shady areas, you’ll get the best results for areas in your landscape that get less than four hours of sunlight each day.
When you plan your lawn, you need to know that there are two main types of grasses: warm season and cool season. If you live in the South, you can plant warm-season grasses in the early spring. Cool-season grasses are favored in the North and are planted in late summer, early fall and early spring.
Choose the type of grass that performs best in your area:
Warm-season varieties include Bahia, Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia. Cool-season grasses are Bent Fescue, Kentucky Blue Grass and Perennial Rye Grass.
Grasses need at least four hours of direct sunlight a day to thrive, but some grasses will perform well with an equal amount of filtered sunlight. Zoysia and Centipede are the warm-season favorites for shade tolerance.
Cool-season varieties like Fine and Tall Fescues and Rye can handle dappled light. If you have shade, cover your bets and select a seed mix with more than one variety, so if one type doesn’t come up, another one will.
Learn How Much Grass Seed to Buy
When choosing grass seed, use this formula to calculate the quantity of seed to purchase:
Calculate the square footage of the area you need to cover (Area = length x depth), minus buildings, driveways and gardens, then follow package requirements.
Help Shaded Grass Grow
- Prune back tree canopies to let more light in and improve air circulation.
- Improve soil. Test soil for pH and amend accordingly.
- Treat moss, if that’s a problem.
- Raise the bar. Giving grass more length lets it reach the sunlight and increase root growth. Never trim more than 1/3 of the blade length.
- Keep in mind that shady lawns will need less water and less fertilizer. However, be aware of competition from trees and shrubs.
- Keep the shady lawn off-limits to foot traffic while it’s growing.
Learn more about growing grass from seed in this buying guide.