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Made in the Shade: Lawn Survival Tips

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

It's rare to find an American lawn that gets no shade from trees or overhanging eaves. That means that the grass species on your lawn may not fare well in spots once your shade trees have matured. Depending on where you live in the country, there are warm-season and cool-season grasses that simply have a higher shade tolerance than others.

You'll know if you have a shade-tolerance problem if your lawn has inconsistent or weakened qualities where obstacles like trees or brush block sunlight. Shade can hinder your lawn's ability to rebound from stress or fight off disease and pests. Shaded grasses also retain water. That's why it's a good idea to let shaded areas grow taller before mowing--say, up to three inches--and to water deep into the lawn less frequently in shaded than in sunny sections.
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Lend Your Shaded Lawn a Hand

Trim back the low-hanging limbs of shade trees to enable light to filter through. You can do this without greatly compromising the shade you like to have in summer heat. Rake up clippings and snapped branches that can further block your lawn from the sun. If all else fails, consider carving out the damaged sections of lawn and plant shade-tolerant shrubs, flowerbeds, or ground cover. A good lawn care expert can recommend a solution based on your region and native climate.

If you're looking to mix up your turf type, choose a shade-tolerant blend of grass. In regions where people choose cool-season grasses, red fescue, annual bluegrass, and hard fescue are especially sturdy in the shade. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescues may also stand up to shade, but avoid Kentucky bluegrass.

Shade-tolerant warm-season grasses include St. Augustine and Zoysiagrass. Centipedegrass is fairly tolerant, but Bermudagrass and Buffalograss are wimps when it comes to the dark. 

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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