Grass sod for shaded areas

How to Choose the Right Grass Sod for Shaded Areas

Jamie Tedder

Sunlight is a key factor in establishing a new lawn—and so is shade.

In optimal conditions, you’d want at least 4-6 hours of direct midday sunlight each day to grow a thriving, green lawn. However, factors such as a dense canopy of trees and nearby buildings may cast shadows, creating shaded areas on the lawn.

These shaded areas often result in thin grass with bare spots, slow growth, and a pale color. While most grass varieties prefer sunlight, some can withstand shade and still thrive in areas that rarely see the light of day.

3 Types of Grass for Shaded Areas in Your Lawn

Warm-season grasses often suffer more injury in shaded areas than cool-season grass varieties. It can lose color and become more vulnerable to pests and diseases when it doesn't receive enough sunlight daily. However, some warm-season grass varieties do just fine in 4-6 hours of partial or dappled sun. Hybrid varieties have also become more accessible in recent years, bred to increase durability, particularly their tolerance to shade.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant variety that grows as long as it receives light for at least 4 hours—and it doesn't have to be a direct sun. It can grow into a healthy, medium-dark green lawn even with at least 4-6 hours of filtered or dappled sunlight.

In addition to shade tolerance, St. Augustine is tolerant to heat, humidity, and salt. It can also withstand moderate foot traffic, making it a hardy yet relatively low-maintenance grass.

Zoysia Grass

A native to Asia, Zoysia grass is known for its resistance to heat, drought, and heavy foot traffic. Although it is a warm-season grass that thrives in warmer climates, it is also low-light tolerant and can survive in lawns with filtered sunlight or partial shade. Some Zoysia cultivars with fine blades are specifically bred to become shade-tolerant species.

Zoysia grass can adapt in shaded areas by developing a denser growth pattern, offering a lush, healthy lawn under varying light conditions. Discover the best fertilizer for zoysia grass here.

Centipede Grass

Although Centipede grass is not as shade-tolerant as St. Augustine grass, it remains a great option for lawns with partially shaded areas. Adding to the benefits of this warm-season variety is that it requires less mowing, watering, and fertilizer than other grass types.

It grows into a dense lawn that can prevent invasive weed growth and thrive in acidic and relatively low-quality soil.

Grass that grows in shade

How to Maintain Grass in Shaded Areas

While these grass varieties can endure shade, it doesn't guarantee that they will always thrive in deep-shaded areas. They still require some sunlight, even if filtered or not as much as other lawn grasses.

Trying—and failing—to grow grass in shaded areas can be frustrating. It's essential to understand that successful growth in poor light conditions takes more than just the right sod for shady areas. A comprehensive, multi-step approach is necessary to effectively grow and maintain grass in shade.

Assess Your Lawn

Different grass varieties require varying amounts of sunlight. However, the general rule is that even the most shade-tolerant cultivars need at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight or 4-6 hours of partial or dappled sunlight—the type of light filtered through the tree leaves—daily. So, observe your lawn at different times to see how much sun it gets, particularly the shady areas.

Trim Your Trees

For areas that seem deprived of sunlight all day, a quick and easy fix is to remove tree limbs. Trim the lower branches to raise the canopy and allow more light to filter through.

Mix-and-Match Sod

Understanding different grass types and their requirements allows you to strategically use varieties that align with the specific light and shade conditions in different areas of your lawn.

For areas with plenty of sunlight, select sun-loving grass varieties like Bermuda grass. Meanwhile, shaded areas may benefit from grass types like St. Augustine, which tolerate lower-light conditions. This knowledge allows you to create a well-balanced and visually appealing lawn, with each grass variety flourishing in its preferred light environment.

Adjust Mowing Heights

Mowing your grass higher in shaded areas offers the benefits of a more durable green lawn. By adjusting your mower to cut the grass taller, the blades can absorb more sunlight, even in shaded conditions. It also offers greater resistance to stress, wear and tear, and fungal diseases.

So, cut no more than the top one-third of your grass. Keep your mower sharp as well—a cleaner cut makes for stronger grass.

Water Properly

Grass that grows in shade doesn't dry out as quickly as other areas exposed to direct sunlight, thus necessitating reduced watering frequency. Excessive watering in these areas can lead to prolonged soil moisture, creating favorable conditions for fungal diseases, appearing as brown patches or slimy spots with mushrooms.

Water less frequently and preferably in the morning to maintain optimal conditions for grass in shaded areas. This will help prevent excess moisture accumulation, minimizing the risk of pests and diseases.

Fertilize Accordingly

Nitrogen, when applied in excess, can make plants more succulent, but it can weaken grass blades, thus potentially resulting in fungal diseases. On the other hand, potassium can improve its tolerance and immunity against diseases, which makes it particularly beneficial for shaded areas.

Adjusting your fertilizer to include more potassium in shaded lawns can help promote grass strength and disease resistance. Overall, it can contribute to a healthier, more vibrant lawn.

Reduce Stress

Excessive foot traffic, such as kids and pets playing on the lawn, can put your grass under stress. It can also result in soil compaction and damage to your grass, particularly in shaded regions.

Reducing stress in shaded areas helps preserve the soil structure, allowing optimal water absorption and root development. This is particularly essential in low-light conditions where grass already faces challenges for optimal growth.

Shade tolerant grass sod of Bethel Farms

Premium-Quality Shade-Tolerant Grass Sod at Bethel Farms

Whatever you decide to plant in the shaded areas of your lawn, there are a handful of options at Bethel Farms.

As a provider of premium-quality grass sod in Florida, we offer some of the most shade-tolerant warm grass varieties, including St. Augustine and Zoysia grass.

Visit our website to shop for shade-tolerant grass sod today!