Types Of Grass That Don’t Need Sunlight To Flourish
There’s no better feeling than sitting beneath the shade of a tree with soft grass beneath you and the sun beaming in the sky. However, growing grass in the shade is one of the trickiest problems to overcome when it comes to gardening.
If you’ve been repeatedly attempting to grow grass in a shaded area to no avail, you are not alone. However, though it may seem like everything you try results in failure, the lush green lawn of your dreams may be closer than you think. With the right seed selection and a little bit of TLC, you can be on your way to becoming the proud owner of a nice, shaded patch of grass.
In order to survive, the majority of grasses used for laying lawns require anywhere between four to six hours of direct sunlight. Whilst it is generally not possible to grow grass without at least some input from the sun, there are certain types that are able to thrive on the lower end of this scale with indirect or dappled sunlight.
Different Types of Grass
When it comes to grass, there are many different types. Some are more suited to hot climates, whereas others thrive in cooler temperatures. Generally speaking, grass seeds are usually split into two main categories: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.
Cool-season grasses enjoy seasonal weather, where cold winters are followed by hot summers. On the other hand, warm-season grasses grow best in hot and humid climates, that are either warm year-round or come with only a short winter period.
Due to these differences, it is always a good idea to choose a grass-type which is suited to your region’s climate. Failing to do so may result in you planting a seed that is unable to germinate in the temperatures of your garden, or one that will abruptly stop its growth as the seasons change.
It is always preferable to buy a blend of seeds, or to mix them yourself, as this acts as a safeguard if one of the components fails.
The Best Shade Tolerant Grass Types
When it comes to cool-season grasses, these are the best types to go for if you want to achieve results in a shaded area:
- Fescues – Grasses in the fescue family are some of the most adept at growing in the shade due to their soil adaptability and drought-tolerance characteristics. It is usually a mix of varying different members of this group that makes for the most effective formula. Whilst Creeping red fescue comes top when it comes to shaded growth, it is far more adaptable when combined with other types such as Chewings fescue and Hard fescue. Tall fescues are also highly effective at growing in limited sunlight.
- Ryegrass – Ryegrass is another species which comes in many variations and is effective when planted in a shaded area in cooler regions.
For warmer climates, the following grass types are effective at growing in the shade:
- Augustine – This grass type is one of the most successful when it comes to shaded growth. Although it cannot generally be planted as a seed, it can instead be sprigged to make for a lush, shaded lawn.
- Zoysia – This type of grass is capable of growing in shaded areas with low levels of sunlight, provided that it is grown in an area with high temperatures.
Give Your Grass a Helping Hand
When attempting to grow grass in the shade, there are certain techniques you can use to give it the helping hand it needs to survive. By taking these steps, you can give your lawn the best chance of growing up to be lush and thick:
- Prune Your Trees – Pruning the trees which block your lawn’s sunlight can allow more essential rays to make their way through to your lawn. By removing lower branches and cutting back some of the interior branches to reduce the density of your trees, you will be able to enhance your lawn’s chances of survival significantly. Far from being harmful to your trees, pruning is in fact a great way to keep them healthy and encourage growth. It goes to follow that shaded lawns are far less successful in the presence of dense or low-growing trees.
- Water More – For grass which is shaded by trees and foliage, sunlight is not the only issue. These lawn areas receive significantly less water as a result of rain getting caught on the canopy of the trees. In addition, what water does reach the soil below has to be shared with their much mightier neighbours, which inevitably leads to drier soil and less moisture for the taking. This is also why grass is usually unsuccessful when grown beneath trees with shallow root systems. Without adequate water, it is impossible for deep and healthy grass-roots to develop. For these reasons, it is essential to provide extra water for your grass in shaded areas, by installing sprinklers or an irrigation system.
- Extra Seeding – In shaded areas, it is appropriate to reseed up to two times a year in order to replenish the coverage. This should be carried out in Spring and Autumn for the best effects.
- Fertilisation – In line with the other points above, shaded areas can also gain an extra helping hand through added fertilisation. You can give these areas up to 2/3 extra to provide the added boost they need to make it through.
- Controlled Mowing – Grass that is growing in shaded areas can benefit significantly from being left a little longer than grass in direct sunlight. Longer grass has more surface area upon which to catch that all-important sunlight. It is advisable to mow your grass between half an ich to one inch longer for areas that are in the shade. By mowing in different directions each time you tackle these patches, you can also help to ensure their overall health. Never mow a shaded lawn too short, as this can lead it to wear thin to a point that is unrecoverable.
- Take It Easy – Shaded lawns are more susceptible to wear and tear than their sunnier counterparts. This is why it is important to treat these areas with great care and minimise foot traffic or heavy use of shaded patches. You can protect your lawn by installing a paved pathway, which will prevent the stress that footfall can create. You should also try to avoid any other stressors such as weed killers as much as possible, as these can act to damage the quality of the grass.
With the right seed selection and helping hand or two, grassy lawns have the potential to thrive. It may not be easy, but the challenge is just part of the fun!