Tuesday, April 5, 2011
There are always many questions on how to successfully grow grass in the shade. Most yards have some shade so this is a real problem since trees continue to grow over time, creating more shade.
The main problem is, what is your definition of shade in your particular area? Is it 100% void of natural sunlight? Does the area receive any filtered sunlight? How many hours of filtered or direct sunlight does the area experience? These are all critical points to know so like a doctor, you can diagnose if you are even able to grow grass effectively at your home.
All grass seed needs some sunlight to grow like all plants. If there is not enough sunlight even the best shade grass seed mixture will have trouble getting established or even live long-term. If there is 2-3 hours of sunlight a day you have a chance of establishing grass in the shade. The success rate goes up, as the hours of sunlight grow longer.
Let’s examine the problems that we face in shaded areas. First, root competition from the trees. A tree versus the grass is like David versus Goliath! Can we really expect the little grass seed plants to win the fight over 20 to 50 foot trees? Trees tend to take a lot of water and nutrients from the surrounding areas so you may need to take a soil test to determine if you need to add any soil supplements. Trees also can reduce air circulation, which makes the turf prone to fungus problems. The soil can tend to be tamped down and compacted around trees, again making it hard for grass to survive.
If your property is not well drained or graded properly you can have too much water lying under trees. Shaded areas can also be very dry since they do not get a lot of direct rainfall. It seems life is always full of too much or too little of many things! Sometimes shade is not so bad for grass. Many times when the sunny areas of the lawn are browning from stress you can find a dark-green grass patch under trees since the grass has not dried out, so some shade can be good for lawns!
Choosing Jonathan Green Dense Shade Mixture will increase your chances of growing grass in the shade too with a high content of fine fescues. These grasses have a much better chance of surviving long-term under shaded conditions than perennial ryegrass and particularly kentucky bluegrass, which really likes full sun to partial shade best. Tall fescues also perform well in shaded areas.
Over time you will notice the fine fescues are the ones that survive in the shade. They have a very thin, wiry look to their blades. Also, Jonathan Green Shady Nooks Mixture with poa trivialis is a species of grass that has shown excellent performance in even the shadiest nooks of your yard. Fine fescues do not need as much fertilizer to keep them looking good so; do not overfeed in shady areas.
Another problem late in the year is leaf cover on existing grass areas. Too many leaves falling on the grass and them not being removed can kill grass in a few weeks. Clear areas once or twice in the fall, not waiting until all of the leaves have fallen from your trees. Sometimes you can seed in late fall with Jonathan Green Fall Magic after the leaves have fallen and get better results establishing grass seed in the wide open areas. If it gets cold too quickly this may not work and the seed may germinate in the spring if the birds do eat it. Early spring seeding with can also be successful if you sow grass seed before the tree canopy develops. Re-seeding can become common practice in shade areas no matter what you try.
Creating more sunny areas by removing or thinning trees is another option. This can become cumbersome and expensive and you need to choose which you prefer, the existing tress as they are, or some more grass areas. If all else fails, plant pachysandra!Back