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Select the Right Shade Grass for Your Area of the Country

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

Grass thrives in a lot of sunshine. But when there are shady areas in your yard - because the sun is blocked by a building, bushes, or trees--it is difficult to grow a lush lawn.

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The solution is using grass types that can flourish in shade. All grass needs some sunlight, even "shade grass" cannot grow in complete darkness; however, there are some varieties that only need about four hours of sunlight per day, even if it's dappled sunlight.

Before selecting a type of shade grass seed, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension suggests studying the type of shade (constant or intermittent) in your yard to determine the best type of grass to grow. Another important step in selecting shade grass seed is recognizing your growing climate.

Shade Grass for the North

Fescue grass does well in colder northern climates - thriving with little sunlight, growing underneath trees, and resisting drought. The fescue grasses include over 100 different sub-species. The best varieties for the north are:

  • Boreal and Flyer Red Creeping Fescue
  • Discovery Hard Fescue
  • Raymond and Tiffany Chewings Fescue

Transition Shade Lawns

If you live in the states between the northern and southern hardiness zones (which include the lower elevations of Virginia and North Carolina through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas), select from the following variety of fescues, which also grow well in these areas:

  • Creeping Red Fescue
  • Florentine Creeping Red
  • Flyer
  • Bonny Dunes
  • Discovery Hard
  • Mid America (a mix of bluegrass and fescue)

Shade Grass in the Southern Region

Intense heat makes shade grass planting more difficult, but these varieties generally do well in shady conditions in the south:

  • Zoysia
  • Centipede
  • Carpetgrass
  • St. Augustine

So, for thriving grass in shady areas of your yard, know the type of shade you have, choose a variety appropriate for you region's climate, and enjoy your lush, healthy lawn.

About the Author

Marcia Passos Duffy writes frequently about agriculture, lawncare and gardening. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association.

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