The Q&A Archives: Shady lawn

Question: We have a portion of our yard that is very shaded. What grass is left is very thin. There are mossy areas in that section of the yard also. Any suggestions for us to get grass growing again? And what type of grass? We are down to dirt in some areas. Thanks for any suggestions you can give us.

Answer: If the shade is very dense, grass will have a hard time getting established and staying healthy as most grasses require sunny conditions. The most shade-tolerant grasses are fine fescues. For best results, choose a variety that is known to grow well in your area. The University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners can help you. Your county office is 507-280-2863. You may want to test the soil and amend as recommended; and once you've seeded the area, make sure it's protected from all traffic until the grass is growing well. Since trees and grass will compete for moisture, make sure there's plenty available while the grass is getting going, and then gradually wean the lawn off irrigation. Mow the shaded area higher than sunny areas -- the grass needs more leaf surface to catch as much light as possible. Use about 10% less fertilier on the shaded area than you do on your sunny spaces.

Another alternative is to landscape the area differently: put in raised beds, a patio or paths, and grow shade-tolerant groundcovers instead. Hope this helps!

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