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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Growing Grass In Shade

Grass plants have four basic needs

In order to survive they need light, air, water, and nurtrients. In other words, you need sufficient amounts of L.A.W.N. in order to have a full, healthy lawn. Even if one of these basic needs is not met, the grass may begin to decline and eventually die.

The problem we come across, in many older landscapes, is heavy shade caused by large trees. Trying to maintain turf in these areas is very difficult and often times impossible due to the lack of one or all the ingredients in L.A.W.N.


The lack of light is the most obvious problem that shade creates. Turf requires 3-4 hours per day to remain thick and healthy. Lawns receiving less than this tend to be thin and weak.


Although air is available in shade areas, location of trees or the amount of trees in the yard can create a problem with sufficient air movement or circulation. This can cause excess dampness, which can lead to disease or fungus activity.


Between 1-2” of water each week throughout the growing season is required for a healthy lawn. The lack of rain is a problem because the tree will act as an umbrella and not allow rain to get to the ground. Because of this, the soil under the tree does not receive adequate moisture or valuable nutrients that rain provides.


The nutrients that do reach the turf, either by rain or fertilization, are being taken up by the roots of the tree as well as the turf roots. A complete soil test will show the nutritional make up of your soil and will determine the type of fertilizer required for your situation. (See our seasonal tip about soil testing.)

Here are a few tips on how to possibly improve the situation:

Do you need the tree?

Often times, too many trees were planted because people did not realize how big they would be when full grown.

Thin the tree

You can thin the tree by removing some inner branches or raise the canopy by removing some lower branches.

Add some topsoil

Tree roots are near and often on the surface not allowing enough soil for turf plants to grow. They’re also robbing the plants of valuable nutrients.


Only after doing some or all of these other things, loosen the soil with a rake and reseed. Some varieties of grass do better than others, so be sure to read the labels and stay away from annual varieties.


Whenever you do any seeding, be sure to keep soil damp by watering daily for about 3-4 weeks. You may have to water more often each day depending on the type of soil you have. You can cut back to weekly watering once you establish good turf growth.


Jerald said...

Excellent information provided by this blog.

Growing Plants

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