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How to Take Care of a Shady Lawn

Taking great care of your lawn is a balancing act of sorts. Turf that gets plenty of sun requires different maintenance techniques than turf that spends most of the day shaded. And without the right approach, the health of your grass and the appearance of your property will inevitably suffer.

While most homeowners have a pretty solid idea of how to care for their sun-exposed grass, not many know how to properly maintain the shady areas of their property. If that sounds like you, at Zoysia Sod, we’re here to help you out. Below, we’ve outlined what every homeowner should know about taking care of a shady lawn.

Choose Grasses That Tolerate Shade

Before we break down the details on caring for a shady lawn, it’s important to understand that not every type of grass is shade tolerant. If your lawn currently features a grass variety that doesn’t do well in the shade, you’ll have a hard time keeping it healthy no matter what you try.

For example, Bermuda grass, although popular, requires approximately four to six hours of direct, mid-day sun exposure per day. When it doesn’t get enough sun, its color begins to fade, and it’s drought and disease tolerance decrease considerably. If shaded Bermuda grass gets too much rain or if you water it too frequently, yoru grass can become oversaturated because there’s no sunlight to help that moisture evaporate. When grass becomes oversaturated, fungal growths are far more likely to pop up. The same idea applies to any other type of grass that requires substantial sunlight each day.

So what kind of grasses do well in the shade? That depends on where you live and whether it’s suited to cool-season or warm-season grasses. As a general rule, cool-season grasses are considerably more shade tolerant than their warm-season counterparts, but ultimately, your choice of shade-tolerant grasses will depend on your geographic region.

Texas has a pretty mild climate, making the following warm-season, shade-tolerant grasses suitable options:

  • Zoysia. This grass has several different varieties, all of which tolerate shade quite well. At Zoysia Sod, we’re partial to this grass variety for several reasons, including its drought tolerance, amazing barefoot feel, and thick, luxurious appearance. Zoysia grass also features a highly dense, intertwined root system, which effectively chokes out weeds and prevents them from growing through the turf.
  • St. Augustine. This grass is a popular option among homeowners, but it’s not quite as shade tolerant as Zoysia. Most varieties of St. Augustine grass require about five to six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. If your lawn is quite shaded, St. Augustine may not be the best option.
  • Centipede. Certain Centipede grass varieties are decently shade tolerant; however, most of them grow best in full sun. On average, Centipede grasses require approximately six hours of partial sunlight each day.

Taking Care of a Shady Lawn: 4 Essential Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve planted the right type of shade-tolerant grass for your area, it’s time to learn how to care for it properly. Though the grass might be shade tolerant, it can still fail to thrive with the wrong irrigation schedule, improper mowing, or too much fertilizer. To properly care for your shade-tolerant grass, keep the following tips in mind:

Practice Deep, Infrequent Irrigation

Shady lawns don’t require watering on a super frequent basis because they don’t get enough sunlight to allow the excess moisture to evaporate. Watering the grass frequently will increase the amount of time the blades remain wet, and perpetually wet grass is far more vulnerable to disease and fungus.

To maximize the health of a shady lawn, water the turf deeply, infrequently, and only when necessary. To determine when it’s time to water, take a look at the grass: if the blades are slightly curled, that means they’re water stressed and it’s time for a deep irrigation.

Selectively Prune Tree Branches

Pruning and thinning some of the branches on large trees throughout your yard will help a shady lawn thrive. By selectively removing branches, you’ll help increase airflow to the turf and increase the amount of partial sunlight the grass receives.

Practice Proper Mowing

If you want the shady areas of your lawn to thrive, never mow them to the same height as the sunny portions of your yard. Rather, mow shaded areas to a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches (about an inch higher than sunny areas) to ensure there’s plenty of leaf area for the grass to conduct photosynthesis. The more height you allow the grass, the better its ability to absorb the limited amount of sunlight it receives.

Fertilize Properly

Shaded grass grows slower than sun-exposed grass, which means it requires less nitrogen to thrive. Avoid applying nitrogen fertilizer to a shady lawn throughout spring and summer, but make sure you add potassium fertilizer and supplemental iron to maximize the grass’s color and vitality. Though it’s not a fertilizer, you’ll also need to apply a fungicide as necessary since shady lawns are more vulnerable to fungal proliferation.

Whether you need help caring for your shady lawn or are ready to install a more shade-tolerant grass throughout your property, get in touch with our team at Zoysia Sod. To learn more about our lawn maintenance and sod installation services, give us a call today at (469) 802-0424 or connect with us online, and we’ll be in touch.

Published by Tanner Maxson

CEO of Main Street Mowing and also the owner of this website showcasing our Zoysia installations. I love Zoysia grass and take a moment and geek out with me a little bit. Review some of the other blog posts I have written.

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