Grass That Grows in Shade: Best 3 Picks

When it comes to exposures and conditions, plants run the gambit of hardiness levels on what they can tolerate. But one of the most common situations that gardeners and landscapers face is an overabundance of shade in their area.

And while plants can certainly grow without direct sunlight, not all greenery can survive in shady conditions. So, what happens when you have a high-shade yard but you still want a lush and verdant lawn that catches the eyes of all your neighbors?

Luckily, there are several varieties of grass that grow and even thrive in the shade. Don’t give up on your luxurious lawn fantasies just yet—let’s take a closer look at some of the best products and plants that will still produce great results, even in the shade. Keep reading about Grass That Grows in Shade

What Grass Grows Best In Shade?

When looking for grass that grows well in shady conditions, you can rely on several options. The best shade tolerant grasses are also likely to be cool-season grasses, as their molecular structure is more amenable to cool shadows than arid sunlight.

Among the most popular types of shade grass, gardeners tend to favor the following, among others:

  • Bentgrass.
  • Centipede Grass.
  • Carpet Grass.
  • Fescue (including tall, hard, and creeping varieties).
  • Kentucky Bluegrass.
  • Meadow Grass.
  • Perennial Ryegrass.
  • Poa Bluegrass.
  • Rough Bluegrass
  • St. Augustine Grass.
  • Zoysia.

For most lawns that deal with shade conditions, whether they be partially shaded or severely shaded areas, these types of grasses will take root and grow very well. Because they need fewer nutrients from the sun, shade doesn’t bother them as much.

And when you opt for a grass seed mix, most are pre-formulated with the hardiest of these grasses to suit your region and exposure. That means your lawn gets the best treatment from the tip of the root to the top of the grass!

OUR FAVORITES

  • Able to grow in full sun and shade conditions alike
  • Resistant against damage from high amounts of foot traffic
  • A mixture that is amenable to slope-planting
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  • Biodegradable mixture
  • Self-repairing grass varieties
  • Easy to spread mixture
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  • Works in full sun or shade
  • Great coverage for the price
  • Special formula establishes lush turf whether overseeding or newly planting
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Top Picks For Grass That Grows In Shade

So, you want your lawn to look great, but you have a lot of shade to deal with. Don’t worry—you still have plenty of options!

Yards planted with shade-tolerant grasses are still soft and green, but might take a little bit longer to propagate than full-sun lawns. They also tend to require more specific maintenance than sunny yards.

But most gardeners find that shade grasses are actually much harder than others, given their ability to exist with a little shade! This means that higher foot traffic and even sloping conditions are no problem for shade grasses, opening your yard to more options for use.

Read on for the top choices that will help you seed and grow the perfect lawn for your conditions.

1. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix — Best Overall

Top Pick
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix

Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix provides a very shade-tolerant, high-traffic grass. And when combined with a protective coating to the seed along with the built-in fertilizer, watch your grass flourish in the shade. And as these grasses are self-repairing, you can protect against lawn diseases easily.

Style: Ready to spread, coated grass seeds

Application: Broadcast spreader, drop spreader, or hand-powered spreader

Size: 7 pounds

Treatment Area: 1,750 sq. feet

This mix is specially designed to thrive in low-sun conditions, and even in dense shade. Even with just 3 hours of sunlight per day, your grass will still grow, flourish, and develop deep and healthy root systems that will secure your turf for the entire season.

Alternatively, if another portion of your yard gets more sunlight during the day, this grass mix will still grow wonderfully there. That’s because the formula within Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix also does not preclude full sun conditions, making it perfect for a varied lawn.

The exclusive protective coating on these grass seeds means they can have better absorption rates when it comes to water and nutrients. After planting, this coating also shields the grass seed from diseases that might attack during germination and early growth.

A combination of species with high shade tolerance and self-repairing grasses, this is the ultimate choice for any kind of lawn that exists under shade conditions.

Not only will your lawn grow green and healthy, but it will resist a variety of damages, including foot traffic, disease, and weather. Overall, this seed mix gives gardeners with shady lawns the formula for success!

Pros

  • Biodegradable mixture
  • Thrives in full sun, partially shady, and full shade conditions alike
  • Self-repairing grass varieties
  • Will grow with as little as 3 hours of sunlight per day
  • Easy to spread mixture
  • Fast and visible results within weeks of seeding

Cons

  • Requires frequent, twice-daily watering for proper germination
  • Not formulated for use on Southern lawns
  • Must water and prep the soil before planting for best results

2. Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair Sun and Shade for Grass — Runner Up

Grow Grass Anywhere
Scotts EZ Patch & Repair Sun and Shade

Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair Sun and Shade For Grass mixes grass seed, mulch, fertilizer, and more to propagate new grass and provide a firm hold in the soil. Use for growth in a variety of conditions, including high traffic spaces, slopes, sandy soil, and full sun or shade.

Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair Sun and Shade for Grass uses a combination of built-in fertilizers and mulch to encourage strong root growth and healthy grass, even in densely shaded conditions. This mix includes a variety of hardy, shade-tolerant grasses that will thrive even on a slope.

Style: Ready to spread, treated grass seed mix combination

Application: Broadcast spreader, drop spreader, or hand-powered spreader

Size: 10 pounds

Treatment Area: 225 sq. feet

This product helps gardeners grow turfgrass virtually anywhere, thanks to a specially formulated seeding mixture. Use it to grow damage-resistant grass that thrives in both full sun, partial shade, and dense shade conditions, that can even grow on slopes and in high-traffic areas.

A blend of fescue, ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass, Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair Sun and Shade for Grass is a great option for your lawn. It’s easy to use and ideal for fixing any bare spots in your yard.

Additionally, this mix includes not only high-performance grass seeds, but also mulch, fertilizer, and tackifiers that help to nurture and protect your lawn as it grows, helping to guard against diseases.

Scott’s mulch formula is specially formulated to absorb up to six times its weight in water for comprehensive protection and watering for all grass seed. As a slow-release compound, the built-in fertilizer will keep your lawn feed and verdant for weeks after seeding.

Pros

  • A combination mixture for comprehensive seeding, feeding, and germination protection
  • Able to grow in full sun and shade conditions alike
  • Resistant against damage from high amounts of foot traffic
  • A mixture that is amenable to slope-planting

Cons

  • Users recommend using a lot of product for each application for success
  • Not a lot of coverage area for the price

3. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Sun & Shade Mix — Best For X

Best for Growing Faster
Scotts Turf Builder Rapid Grass Sun & Shade Mix

Scotts Turf Builder Rapid Grass Sun & Shade Mix combines fertilizer with grass seed to give comprehensive coverage and deliver the best nutrients directly to your lawn. Using a single effective formula, you can seed your sun or shade lawn and watch the green transformation happen.

Style: Ready to spread, treated grass seed mix combination

Application: Broadcast spreader, drop spreader, or hand-powered spreader

Size: 5.6 pounds

Treatment Area: 2,800 sq. feet

For gardeners everywhere, this product is a great option for revamping your lawn or fully replanting it. With a rapid formula that includes grass seed and fertilizer, your yard will grow faster than ever—within 2 to 3 weeks for visible improvements.

Scotts Turf Builder Rapid Grass Sun & Shade Mix is ideal for new lawns and existing grass alike, and the fertilizer works to feed and nurture all ages of plant growth. Whether your garden has sun or shade, this seed mix will take hold and thrive.

Nurture your lawn with frequent watering that will activate the slow-release fertilizer formula, and watch the greenery transform your entire yard. For best results, this product should be used in the fall or spring, after any risk of ground frost has passed.

Pros

  • Fast-acting growth formula that produces new growth within 2 to 3 weeks
  • Works in full sun or shade
  • Great coverage for the price
  • Special formula establishes lush turf whether overseeding or newly planting
  • Combination of fertilizer and grass seed nurtures and protects at the same time

Cons

  • The formula is not pet-safe or animal-friendly
  • Must complete soil prep work to ensure successful seeding
  • Requires frequent, daily watering for proper germination

FAQ

While shade is not the ideal condition for many plants, including grass, any gardeners who struggle with yard exposure can rely on a variety of shade-tolerant turfgrasses that will thrive in those conditions.

But what about your other shade-related questions regarding grass? Let’s talk about some common queries that gardeners have about grass that grows in shade.

What Kind Of Grass Grows Best In The Shade?

Grass Best In The Shade

Among the types of shade-tolerant grasses, fine fescue varieties are popular among gardeners and landscapers for their ability to germinate in shaded soil quickly and grow into strong and healthy turf.

All grasses need some amount of sunlight to access nutrients that are necessary for growth, but fine fescue tends to have the highest ability to thrive in the shade. Alternatively, tall fescue grasses are good to grow in partial or moderate shade conditions, as they are still cool-season grass with low sunlight needs.

How Do I Grow Grass In Heavy Shade?

Though it can seem difficult to propagate grass in heavy shade, there are actually some simple steps that you can follow for successful growth. Start by selecting the correct grass for your conditions, and then assess your yard situation.

When you plant grass in heavily shaded areas, make sure to let it grow longer than other grasses that grow in the sun. Your shade-tolerant grass should be around 3 inches high, even after mowing. This allows extra blade length for gathering nutrients from the sparse sunlight.

Additionally, grass growing in shade needs less fertilizer than other areas. Shade grasses only need about half the nitrogen that the rest of your lawn requires.

So, after seeding and the initial growth, limit the risk of overfertilization by lessening the amount whenever you carry out scheduled fertilizing. And make sure not to overwater your shaded grass—it doesn’t dry out as quickly as grass in full sun exposure, so it can easily get too wet and encourage mold growth.

When Should I Plant Shade Grass?

While you can seed new grass either in the spring or fall, as long as the risk of frost has passed, planting shade grass is ideal during the early months of autumn.

Grass seed germinates best when planted while the temperatures are between 60°F and 80°F, and this is especially true for shade-tolerant varieties. So, planting them between the end of July and the beginning of October is typically ideal, depending on your location.

Because shade grasses are not amenable to hot, arid temperatures for long periods, planting them during the height of summer is not advised. You should also aim to plant these grasses on a day that is clear of storms or heavy rain, as you run the risk of seed wash and uneven germination.

How Do You Grow Grass In A Wooded Area?

Whether you are trying to propagate grass in a backyard forest location or under a tree in your yard that has particularly dense foliage, grass can have a difficult time growing in wooded areas. However, you can try some tricks to help it grow faster and healthier!

Instead of watering daily, opt for a less frequent, but deeper irrigation schedule. Don’t water in the evening or later afternoon, as this increases the risk of fungus or mold attaching to your turfgrass and becoming problematic.

Clear away any leaves that fall onto the grass as soon as you can, as they will fully block the leaf blades from absorbing any nutrients from the sun through photosynthesis. Additionally, decaying leaf matter distributes bacteria that might bring disease to a more fragile area of your shade grass.

You should also try to keep any tree cover pruned and manicured to try and allow as much sunlight in as possible. Grass needs between 3 and 4 hours of sunlight to grow properly, so a well-pruned tree that allows the sun to seep through is ideal for shade grass.

Keep foot traffic off your shade grass when it has just been watered, and keep people away until the water has had a chance to settle in and the roots have absorbed it. And when mowing, change the minimum height to allow about 3 to 4 inches of extra blade length.

Buyer’s Guide: What Is The Best Grass That Grows In Shade For Your Yard?

Now that you have seen the options of shade grass types and the range of sun to shade conditions, it’s time to narrow down your choices. And the easiest way to do so is by assessing the quality of sunlight or shade that your yard receives on a daily basis.

Is Your Yard Partially Shaded?

Yard Partially Shaded

For a lawn that lands somewhere between shady and sunny conditions, you can safely opt for medium-density grass. These types of turfgrass include:

  • Centipede Grass and Carpet Grass—These warm-season grasses are tolerant to shade, but still require several hours of sunlight per day to propagate well, so are great for areas of light shade.
  • Rough Bluegrass—Another shade-tolerant type, this coarsely-bladed grass can withstand moderate shade conditions, but still requires a few hours of direct sun.
  • Tall and Hard Fescue—Ideal grasses for a partially to moderately shady location, due to their hardy nature and propensity to grow densely and share nutrients.
  • Zoysia—While able to withstand areas that have medium levels of shade, this grass has a good tolerance for being without sunlight, but will turn brown at the first sign of frost.

Is Your Yard Densely Shaded?

Densely Shaded yard

If you have large banks of fairly deep shade in your yard, such as tree coverage or shadows cast by the house, you should consider the following varieties of grass:

  • Perennial Ryegrass—Though it doesn’t have the longest lifespan (generally only one year before reseeding), this is a great option for swiftly growing and hardy lawn coverage for the deepest of shade conditions.
  • Poa Bluegrass—A light green turf that does well in conditions of intense shade, this grass is all but indifferent to water conditions. It has a rough stalk and hardy roots that allow it to access nutrients and store them for later use.
  • Red Creeping Fescue—Great for deep shade planting, this is a cool-season grass that will tolerate both lack of sun and high foot traffic, and tends to be resistant to diseases.
  • St. Augustine Grass—With a distinctive texture, broad grass blades, and high resistance to damage and pests, this grass will also flourish in a deeply shaded area.

Final Thoughts

Growing grass in the shade can be a challenging process. But with the correct grass type and growing method, gardeners and landscapers can have great results. Planting for the correct exposure, temperature, and yard layout is easy when you have the information behind it all.

The key to grass that grows in shade is to select the appropriate species of grass for your exposure conditions. After you seed it properly and follow shade-specific guidelines for watering and fertilization, you should see a fresh green lawn sprouting up, even though it’s hiding in the shade!

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