The Q&A Archives: Grass in the midsouth

Question: I have .75 of an acre, lot facing East, just outside of Nashville. We have a great many mature trees, so much so that parts of the backyard receive almost no direct light. The front yard is a mix of fescues and other less-desirables. I spread the new Scotts plus a month or so ago... now I have bare spots. What do I need to do now?

Answer: Keep in mind that tree roots can outcompete the lawn, and grass really does not grow well in less than a half a day of direct sun. If your yard is truly shady, you may want to consider the best approach to covering the ground, perhaps by transitioning to a groundcover other than turf grass, something that will enjoy the shady conditions and be able to handle growing beneath trees. However, if you are determined to try growing lawn there, I would suggest you start by testing the soil to check fertility and also pH. Adjust these as indicated by the soil test results. Then you could top dress with good quality compost. Finally, you can patch the bare areas. Loosen the soil, work in some organic matter such as compost, and seed. Keep moist until the grass germinates. Consider also doing a core aeration (not spike but core aeration that pulls up plugs of soil) in late summer or early fall followed by overseeding. (Late summer to early fall is actually the best time of year to do extensive lawn work.) Consult with your local county extension as to the best variety of grass for shade in your local area. They should also be able to help with the soil testing and interpreting the results. You may also find their web site helpful. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Good luck wiht your lawn this summer!

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