Lawn for Shade


Question: Our backyard is deeply shaded by deciduous trees. We have tried to get some lawn going for two years now with spring and fall seeding and it won’t take, no matter what mix we use. Can you recommend a lawn grass for deep shade, or specific steps we can take to get it going?

Answer: As you’ve found, growing a turfgrass lawn in an area with more a half a day of shade is a losing battle. Rather than spend more time, money and effort on establishing a lawn, work with your shade, which offers you other opportunities. You could grow a shade-loving low-maintenance groundcover. Moss can make a lovely carpet in the shade—read all about gardening with moss. Or you might even just mulch the area, especially if you want to use it as a play space or for entertaining. To keep the area looking tidy and gardened, carve out a border to edge your lawn alternative, and plant the border up with textural shade lovers such as ferns and hostas.

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8 thoughts on “Lawn for Shade

  1. Being a landscape contractor/designer I have dealt with this problem here in Iowa. The Scott Sun/shade grass mix contains fescue grasses are the best. They also have Zeba covering on the seed which is a derivative of corn starch and this helps to keep the seed moist in order to germinate. When seeding, first apply a good organic lawn fertilizer. I use Miracle Grow Lawn Food. I also apply a spread of table sugar to the seeded area. It is a carbohydrate and gives it energy, softens the soil and helps it to germinate. I then make sure that all of that area is covered with either 1/8 inch of top soil or compost. The table sugar is used at the Center for Endangered Species of Plants in Omaha to give plants energy.

  2. hi, you did not mention what TYPE trees (norway maples do give dense shade, etc.) where you are located, wet/dry,siting (are you in the woods), height/spread, etc. if you REALLY want lawn, depending on all of the above, you might remove one/some of the trees,,, Phellodendrons grow tall and allow wonderful lawn, silver maples give shade and grow quickly to allow the lawn,,, there may be lots of other options, if you give all the information.

    • We, too, have tall oak trees. We had many lower limbs trimmed last fall, allowing more sun to reach the ground. Now we have more grass everywhere except immediately under the trees.

  3. I also have a lawn with lots of shade. I have found that here in Iowa I can grow lush green grass using a Turf Type Tall Fescue. It also does well in the areas that get sun. It is a lush dark green and the blade is slightly wider than the norma Bluegrass types. And best of all, the man who does the fertilizing and weed spraying for me is also very impressed with it. One drawback, it doesn’t fill in on its own, you do have to re-seed bare spots. I hope this suggestion helps with your decision.

  4. When you have too large an area which begs for some type of lawn, Jaguar Fescue is the best shady grass type. I have a front lawn completely covered by 5 large maples but actually my front lawn is my pride and joy. It is a prefect deep green year around despite little sun. It looks better than my other two lawn areas which receive hours of sun. Jaguar is a bit more expensive and you will need to overseed every couple years to keep it thick but its worth it.

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