Growing Grass in the Shade
Shade has a severe effect on grass. Light and air circulation are reduced and relative humidity is increased. The result is a stand of grass that has less plant vigor, little root growth, thinner leaves, increased susceptibly to diseases and drought, and more weeds.
There are several tips to consider when trying to grow grass in the shade.
First, it is important to purchase the proper kind and variety of seed. Fine fescue and tall fescue have the highest tolerance to shade. Avoid planting bluegrass and ryegrass varieties.
Second, a thick stand of grass will not grow when there is not enough light. Minimize competition by reducing the seeding rate by one-third. Planting at the normal rate puts too many grass plants in the area resulting in poor establishment. When establishing the grass in fall, sow seeds when the leaves of trees have fallen. If establishing in the spring, use sod after the leaves of trees have come on.
Third, mow higher. If the grass is mowed at 4 inches it has greater leaf surface to produce more energy.
Fourth, limit foot traffic when possible.
Finally, accept a thinner stand of grass. If an area receives less than 4 hours of sunlight a day or there is less than 50 percent open sunlight, chances are turf grass will not grow well. Under these conditions, alternatives to grass should be considered. Other options include the use of groundcovers, shade tolerant plants, or mulch beds.