If your backyard or garden area is in shade for most of the day, then you may find the lack of sunlight is affecting the way your lawn grows. If you notice that your grass is failing to grow or lacks in colour and health, then it’s likely to not be getting enough sunshine.
There may be ways to help your grass to grow in the shade, such as removing sun-blocking trees or shrubs, but if your garden is inhibited by lots of trees or neighbouring houses then this may not be an option.
Let’s look at ways you can grow a healthy lawn in the shade, including the best lawns for shady areas and tips for what to do if your lawn isn’t getting enough sun:
Can grass grow in shade?
Yes, grass can grow in the shade - but it will depend on:
- The grass type
- Amount of shade vs sunlight your yard is getting
- The level of lawn care provided
Most grasses will need between 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to survive. For shade-tolerant varieties, this sunlight quota can be met with dappled light on top of a healthy lawn care regime.
What is the best grass for shade?
For full-shade areas, you need a grass with high shade-tolerance. Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo is a hardy lawn variety perfect for residential yards with little sunlight. Coined as the “king of turf in shade”, Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo grass performs well in shaded areas that get a minimum of 3 hours of sunlight per day. This is due to its unique broad leaf which captures more sunlight, allowing even the most sun-deprived sections of your lawn to absorb enough sun and nutrients to grow healthy and strong.
What is the best grass for partially shaded areas?
If you have a garden or lawn area that’s in partial shade for most of the day, then you’ll need a turf type that has part-shade tolerance capabilities. At Coolabah Turf, we have 2 turf varieties that grow particularly well in partly shaded areas. These are:
TifTuf: TifTuf Bermuda turf’s fine leaf blade and dense canopy allows it to tolerate light shade with as little as 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. TifTuf is an aggressive grower that is drought tolerant and capable of handling high traffic including kids and pets! Thriving in the ever-changing Victorian climate, TifTuf is a good choice if you’re after a hard-wearing lawn that does well in lightly shaded areas.
Sir Grange: Sir Grange Zoysia is a low maintenance turf variety that can handle part-shade environments (a minimum of 4 hours of direct or filtered sunlight per day) once established. If you want a showpiece lawn that won’t wither in shady environments, then this zoysia grass won’t let you down! Just make sure you give it some TLC and please, avoid high foot traffic if you want your Sir Grange to look and grow its best.
What is the best way to grow grass in shade?
Growing grass in shady areas can make it hard to achieve the full, lush looking lawn that you want – yet it is possible. Aside from choosing a shade-tolerant grass, you can give your shady lawn a better chance of survival with some of the following lawn care recommendations:
Watering less frequently
As a rule of thumb, when the temperature decreases so should your watering frequency. Since shady areas aren’t getting a lot of sunlight or warmth, the same principle should apply when it comes to watering grass in shade. It’s best to water only when necessary and to water deeply. Depending on environmental conditions, winter rainfall should be enough to water your lawn over the cooler months.
Pruning trees and shrubs
Removing low hanging branches and limbs from trees and shrubs can allow more sunlight to reach the grass and soil beneath. When pruning your trees or shrubs, try to open up the canopy in order to maximise the amount of sunlight coming through.
Adjusting mowing height
In shade, mow at the highest height possible for your lawn type. This will give your grass the best chance to absorb sunlight and to protect it from environmental stressors like cold and frost. You can try alternating mowing directions every time you mow and always remember to never cut more than ⅓ of the leaf off at a time.
Grasses in shady areas will need extra nutrients to make up for the lack of sunlight. A high-quality fertiliser rich in nitrogen can be applied in early spring and autumn to give your sun-deprived lawn an extra boost. Products like Seasol and Oxafert are also helpful to use on shady lawns, as they will give your lawn added protection over the colder months and control any invasive weeds that can choke your grass and prevent it from getting the sun and oxygen needed to grow.
Avoiding foot traffic
One sure fire way to help grass grow in shady areas is to avoid walking on it. Continuous foot traffic can wear down your lawn and prevent it from growing. If possible, install pavers or consider switching your walking route every couple of months to keep foot traffic to a minimum.
What happens if my lawn doesn’t get enough sun?
Sunlight allows your grass to get all the nutrients it needs to grow and remain healthy and green. If your lawn isn’t getting enough sun then we recommend following the above lawn care tips, including pruning any trees or removing any structures that are blocking sun into your garden. If this isn’t possible - for example, if the neighbour’s house is blocking sunlight to your yard - then the next best option is to choose a shade-tolerant turf variety that can survive with little sun exposure. If, after failed attempts to establish and maintain quality lawn coverage in a densely shaded area, it may well be that you need to consider an alternative ground cover, in either path, a garden bed, a synthetic turf or pavers. Sir Walter DNA Certified is the benchmark of turf in shade, but even our most shade tolerant turf still needs around 3 hours of sunlight to thrive.
Speak to a turf specialist
If your backyard or outdoor space is more shady than it is sunny, you need to choose a shade-tolerant turf variety such as Sir Walter DNA Certified for best results.
For help on choosing the best lawn variety for your area, get in touch with one of our friendly turf specialists today.
For more helpful lawn care tips and advice, visit our blog here.