best grass seed for shade

Many people who have lawns want them to stay lush and healthy, no matter where in the lawn the grass seed is sown. This can be a problem, for in general grass needs full sunlight to do well.

Often, these lawn owners use shade loving plants such as hosta or English ivy to fill up those areas beneath the trees or other structures that cast shade. The good news is that there are many varieties of grass that do well in shade have been developed.

How to Grow Grass in the Shade

With cool season grasses, the seed needs to be planted early in the fall or very late in the summer. This would be around mid to late September. This gives the seed time to germinate before the leaves fall. When the leaves do fall, they need to be removed to allow what light there is to reach the grass.

Most lawn experts recommend that grass never be mowed more than a third of its height. In the case of grass growing in the shade, experts recommend the grass be mowed at least a half an inch to an inch higher than usual. This helps the grass use whatever light does reach it. The grass needs to be mowed regularly, and clippings need to be removed. Grass that grows in the shade must never be “scalped” or mowed down to the stems. It may not recover.

One benefit of shade-grown grass is that it doesn’t need as much nitrogen as the rest of the lawn, though the entire lawn should be fertilized at the same time. The pH and other nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium remain the same. The pH tells you how acid or alkaline the soil is.

Grass growing in the shade doesn’t need to be watered as much, and shouldn’t be watered unless the soil is dry. Then, the grass needs to be watered thoroughly to encourage the roots to reach deeply into the soil. Shallow roots result in weak plants that are susceptible to diseases and pests.

How to Maintain Shade Grass

Grass planted in shady areas might be more susceptible to disease because the air circulation is less robust than in the open. Reduced air circulation allows shady areas to be more humid than normal, which can put the grass at risk for disease.

You should make sure that the soil is well-aerated and that thatch is removed regularly. Thatch is a tangle of roots, leaves and other debris that prevent the grass from getting water and nutrients.

The type of shrubs and trees the grass is planted beneath also matters. Ideally, the trees and shrubs should have deep roots, and the trees should have fairly open canopies that allow light in. Pruning shrubs and trees with dense branches should let in more light.

The roots of some shrubs and trees give off a poison that attacks plants that are placed too close to them. These include rhododendrons, azaleas and walnut trees. On the other hand, trees that are hospitable to grasses include oaks, elms and sycamores. Besides walnut trees, you should avoid planting grass around willows, poplars, ash and some types of maples.

How to Choose the Right Grass Seed for Shady Areas

The secret to choosing the right kind of grass seed for a shady area is to choose seed that’s right for your climate and to choose a blend of seeds. This is insurance in case one type of grass fails to thrive.

You should also buy the best quality seed that you can afford. Grass seed needs to be of very high quality to sprout and grow in shade.

What Are the Different Shade Tolerant Grass Varieties?

Many varieties of grass have been developed to be tolerant of shade. Some are cool season grasses, which means that their best growing period is in the cooler months. The summer months are the best growing periods for warm season grasses.

Red Creeping Fescue
This grass has a fine blade, is medium to dark green, and is excellent for dry areas in the shade. It does best in poor soils, and though it’s considered a cool season grass, red creeping fescue doesn’t tolerate long periods of deep cold.

Poa Bluegrass
Gardeners love this grass for shade because it’s tough and hardy. Its one drawback is that it is such a light green color that it doesn’t blend well with most other lawn grasses.

Zoysia
This grass is also known for its toughness. It can grow well in most climates, but goes dormant and turns brown during a drought and with the frost. Because of this, it’s best treated as a warm season grass.

Perennial Ryegrass
This grass does very well in deep shade, but needs to be overseeded every year to keep that thick, lush look.

Our Shade Grass Seed Reviews

#1 – Jonathan Green 10610 Dense Shade Grass Seed Mixture

This seed grows very quickly. The grass should come in full and thick and doesn’t require an extensive amount of extra work. The amount of seed goes really far with this mixture. A 15 lb bag can regrow up to 9,000 square feet of grass.

This particular mixture contains natural bug deterrents. This would be especially beneficial for yards which collect a lot of rain water.

Bugs, including the vampiric mosquitoes we all know and dislike, are attracted to water. A natural bug repellent can help save you a lot of itchy days.

#2 – Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Mix

This grass will grow in densely shaded areas which may have never grown grass before. It’s very hardy and can produce visible grass in roughly ten days.

It’s also relatively drought resistant and seems to work pretty well in less than ideal soil conditions. The seed is specifically formulated to outperform other mixes and is customized to grow well in different regions and climatic zones.

However, when the seedlings are young, proper watering is very important to get the seed to establish itself well. The mixture produces thin bladed, thick grass. It is disease resistant and very pretty to look at.

#3 – GreenView Fairway Formula Grass Seed Dense Shade Mixture

This grass seed is fairly low maintenance as well. It is resistant to drought, and produces a hardy, dark green grass which is very adaptable and pleasing to the eye. If you use it for overseeding, it should cover twice as large areas as when seeding a new lawn.

The seed germination is also fairly quick. And when cared for properly, the seed should produce beautiful grass in a short time span.

The seed grow best when watered once in the morning and once at night. The mix is 99.9 percent weed free, so you can be sure that you’ll be able to grow high quality grass from it.

#4 – Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed – Dense Shade Mix

This seed will grow evenly in shady areas. The grass will grow thick and green and complement any flower garden, landscape and house wonderfully.

This grass seed also contains a coating which helps it absorb twice the amount of water as uncoated seed. This allows the seeds to germinate more quickly. In a yard which receives little sunlight, this is very important since water absorption can be inconsistent.

The coating also provides important nutrients disease protection. A low maintenance mix, this seed could grow beautifully with as little as 3 hours of sunlight.