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Customer needs help growing grass in shady area

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JOshua Gallerick, Mar 28, 2001.

  1. JOshua Gallerick

    JOshua Gallerick LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    I have a customer that lives in a woody area. He has constantly tried to get his lawn to thicken up by overseeding with creeping red and rye grass. But none of this grows in his soil.
    What other grass types could I have him try? I am also going to do a soil test for him. What about areating the lawn more than once a year? He fertilizes 4 times a year with 1 lb per 1000 sqft each time. I know the shade is a huge factor in it.
    The location is in iowa and the soil has some clay in it. Would be glad to here any ideas that have worked for you!!!! Thank You
  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    Sounds too me like a major Ph problem... get the soil test then report back!
  3. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    if it is only a problem with shade sell him for treatments every 4 weeks or so apart of something called primo. it is a growth regulator that screws around with the gerubilin in the grass making it grow horizontally as opposed to vertically allowing more sunlight to hit the blades. however doing that in and of itself will not do it. you cant go in cutting that area every week let it go a bit longer. also see what the soil test says. however you may need to use some primo. or you can try trimming some trees. but you can only prune them so much before you have to cut em down. so see what he wants to do about that.
  4. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    To have an good turf cover, any type of turfgrass needs 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you impress that on your client, then anything you get to survive in a shaded area is a bonus to him. The only decent cover with cool season turf that I have seen in heavily shaded sites has been with Poa annua (annual bluegrass) and Poa trivialis (rough bluegrass, roughstalk bluegrass, "Poa triv"). Since these are generally treated as weeds, and not commonly farmed for seed, They will cost up to twice the price of regular seed.

    You would need to have irrigation available for these, because the annual blue will die quickly in summer heat. I have managed annual blue in a very densely shaded area for a dozen years, and only had major problems one year with summer dieout - just got too hot too quick. Even when it does thin in the summer, it reseeds itself every fall. But be aware that annual blue can be an agressive weed near more desireable sunny turf. Note: the name "annual" was given before it was known that the grass was not a true annual, but that it dies easily under summer stress.

    Poa triv is more commonly used by knowlegeable landscapers in seeding shady areas. It grows as a rapidly spreading bunch grass, will be a yellow-green color early in the year, and will be susceptable to drought and disease injury in the summer because it is usually shallow rooted (not much reserve energy). Poa triv is also an obnoxious weed in finer turf, but it spreads naturally in wooded areas, as does annual blue. I would rate Poa triv as the much hardier variety in general, but in very dense shade, it will not survive as well as annual blue.

    And Primo is a growth regulator. It reduces the elongation of the grass leaves. This would not be an appropriate thing to use in an area where you have difficulty growing grass. Use it where you have grass growing heavily, to reduce the maintenance cost of frequent repeated cutting.
  5. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    Jim- Does the "triv" grow much? I plan to seed a customer of mine with this since she has shade and wet areas.
  6. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Ocutter, for our area that would be the best choice. I have one section of one yard that is mostly shady, and so soggy that I could not mow part of it for 4-5 weeks last year. This area is beautiful, and is 100% Poa triv, mostly from natural enroachment. Just warn the client that, while this is the best cover for that site, it will be very susceptable to disease injury in the summer. Also the spring color is funky - a yellow-green - but by Memorial Day it will usually match the regular bluegrass.

    Since I cannot be sure of results in your area, you might want to run this idea past one of your turf guys at Rutgers, or the local extension office might give you the name and number of extension turfgrass specialist at Rutgers.

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