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How to Get Grass that Grows in the Shade

Most of the landscapes we see in Eastlake, Ohio include at least some grass that grows in the shade. After all, everyone loves a property full of trees, shrubs, and lots of vegetation. Plants provide oxygen, block sound, and provide privacy.

But how in the world can you grow a healthy lawn with all that shade? I mean, isn’t grass supposed to get a ton of sunlight? The short answer is yes. You probably remember learning a really long word called photosynthesis in grade school. 

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants take light energy from the sun and convert it into sugar and carbohydrates. Plants use these sugars and carbs for energy. Energy they need to survive and remain healthy.

So, does this mean you have to give up your beloved trees and plants? Apart from using a bulldozer to mull them over or relocate them, is there anything you can do?

Ecolawn has you covered. We’re here to offer lawn care tips that will boost life back into your lawn – even the shady bits!

Start With the Right Shade Grass Seed

First, let’s start with the type of grass you have. Here in Eastlake, Ohio, we have cool-season grasses. Turf grasses such as Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and ryegrass all fall under the category of cool-season.

Warm-season grasses like warm weather and grow in late spring. Cool-season turf types grow better in the spring and fall.

Most types of grass need 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, but there are a few types of grass that grow in shade. These include:

  • Fine Fescue
  • Bluegrass
  • Ryegrass


–>For more information about cool-season grasses, check out this article by The Spruce.

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Maintaining Your Shade Grass

Okay, so now you have your grass planted. But with all the shade your trees and shrubs create, it doesn’t fill in like in the sunny areas. What other tips can you do to help keep your lawn from looking like a drought-ridden dust ball.

Increase Your Mower Blade Height

You can start with increasing your mower blade height. Start out by moving the blades up to leave your grass longer. Longer grass achieves better root growth and gives the grass a better opportunity for photosynthesis. Grass that grows in the shade should be at least 4 inches high.

Alternate Mowing Direction

Another tip you can follow when mowing is to change direction from one mowing to the next. This helps to prevent damage and soil compaction.
Use Fertilizer but More Sparingly

Grass in the shade rows at a slower pace simply because it receives less sun. However, fertilizer is still essential for promoting strength and durability. Shade grass has different nutrient needs than your other grass – requiring less fertilizer. Shade grass also requires 1/2 to 2/3 less nitrogen.

Add a Layer of Compost

Adding a layer of compost will help give your roots an extra dose of nutrients. Make sure the compost layer is thin enough that you can still see the grass blades after applying. Use a push broom or rake for easy spreading.

Stick to a Strict Irrigation Schedule

Watering is important, even in the shade. Grass shaded by trees doesn’t receive as much sunlight, but the trees’ canopies often prevent rainwater from getting through. So be sure to utilize a routine watering schedule soaking the ground deeply but infrequently.

Open Up Your Soil With Liquid Aeration

To ensure water, sunlight and nutrients reach the roots of your shaded grass, we recommend aerating once a year. Our liquid aeration will open up your soil to promote water drainage. This allows more sunlight and nutrients to penetrate the roots.

Prune Your Trees

Just because you want to keep your beloved lawn decorations doesn’t mean you can’t trim and prune their branches. You’d be surprised how much more sunlight you create just by pruning a few limbs.

It’s Always a Good Time to Bring In The Pros

Ecolawn takes the guesswork out of lawn care for shady areas, sunny areas, and everything in between. We offer an environmental approach to lawn caretree and shrub care, and even perimeter pest control. Our full-service programs improve the look and health of your yard with natural-based fertilizers, weed control, surface insect control, and, most of all, exceptional customer service.

All you have to do is wiggle your toes in your lush, green lawn. Take that, shade!


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