Shade is one of the most challenging landscape issues. All turfgrass varieties are grown in full sun so transplanting them to a shady area is a big shock. Sod Solutions has top-ranked shade tolerant grasses according to numerous research studies, but we recommend that even shade tolerant grasses receive a minimum of four hours of sunlight per day to survive and thrive.
Keep in mind that shaded areas typically stay wet longer, placing them at higher risk of fungus and disease. Be sure to look out for brown spots that indicate fungus and apply a fungicide like Spectracide Immunox Fungus + Insect Control or Heritage G Fungicide to treat disease issues. Shady areas also are less able to recover from heavy traffic and usually will be competing with tree roots for water and nutrients.
Shady areas beneath trees and tall shrubs can be lightened up by pruning limbs and thinning the canopy so that sunlight can penetrate to the grass beneath. With trees, removing lower branches is a good idea to raise the canopy and to allow sunlight to reach the turf by slanting in beneath branches. It also helps to keep the grass in shady areas at a half to one inch taller than in the sunny parts of your yard. Testing a couple of pieces or plugs in an area where you are considering planting is the best way to determine whether an area is too shady. If it is, using larger beds with landscape plants better suited for shade sometimes is a better option.
At Sod Solutions, one of our top grasses for shaded areas is Palmetto® St. Augustine. With more than one billion sq. ft. sold, Palmetto is the most purchased patented turfgrass in the world. It demonstrates superior shade, cold, frost, heat, and drought tolerance. It is used from the Carolinas to California under a wide range of climate and soil conditions, making it the ideal choice for residential and commercial use. Palmetto St. Augustine is a hardy, low-maintenance variety with an outstanding emerald green color. It performs well in full sun, yet also thrives in shaded areas with three to four hours of direct daily sunlight. A newer St. Augustine variety that has been released called CitraBlue® St. Augustine also demonstrates superior shade tolerance. This St. Augustine variety has a deep blue-green color and shows disease resistance where other grasses do not.
When it comes to zoysia grass for shade, InnovationTMZoysia is another Sod Solutions top performer. Innovation is one of the newer developed zoysia varieties with one of its key characteristics being improved shade tolerance. EMPIRE® Zoysia, a medium textured zoysia grass grown in warm season areas, has moderate shade tolerance, while Innovation, a finer textured zoysia grasses grown in the transition zone, has greater shade tolerance.
Sod Solutions partners with universities and turf grass farms across the country to conduct ongoing research that addresses general turf issues. One ongoing project at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus is studying how Sod Solutions’ Palmetto St. Augustine, EMPIRE Zoysia, Geo® Zoysia and Celebration® Bermudagrass perform under the shade of oak trees.