Shady grass

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Pro-Lawn, Apr 10, 2002.

  1. Pro-Lawn

    Pro-Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    I have a customer that wants to know what she can do to get her front yard to look as good as her back yard. Her front yard is totally shaded, grass just isnt filling in. She had it tilled and re seeded 2 years ago by another company and its not seeding in? Should i do a soil test ? She has tried fert , weed feed . It just wont grow? Whats the best way to find an answer in this situation?

    Eric Goodwin
  2. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 472

    How shady is the front yard? Dense shade? Dappled? Partial shade based on time of day? How many hours of sunlight? Can you thin the trees out? Can you trim some of the tree branches to let in more light? What kind of trees are we dealing with? Evergreens? What species of grass was planted? Is the soil always moist? Is the soil always dry? Is there a drainage problem (stand water)? Is the lawn irregated? Is the soil compacted? Need more info to help out.
  3. garydale

    garydale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    Lawnstudent ask all the right questions. You need to know all that stuff if she is serious about wanting a lawn.

    She is willing to remove some trees?

    We have had some luck with a Hard Fescue seed mix in shady situations

    Don't you love a challenge!.
  4. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Easy answer: if you want a good turf, any grass needs a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight each day.

    If you ain't got that condition, then you're gonna work your tail off trying to keep grass growing. Best solution sometimes, in our C3 region, is to seed twice a year. Grass will always germinate and grow, just dies out because of improper environment. A friend went to school with a guy who grew grass on the floor of the back seat of his car, just to show that he could grow grass anywhere. LOL.

    Growing grass is easy. Keeping it surviving in negative cultural conditions is sometimes impossible. If you use C3 grasses there, best survival in shade is Poa trivialis (rough bluegrass, or poa triv) and Poa annua (annual bluegrass). You won't find annual blue seed (it's a weed), and will look hard and pay dearly for poa triv.

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 665

    Over-fertilization is a common cause of shade turf decline.
    Some varieties should only have 2 lbs. N per year. Too much will cause the grass to lay down and die in the summer.
  6. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Shaded lawns can't create food for themselves due to lack of sunlight - the whole photosynthesis gig.

    As a result, weakened turfgrass plants eventually will die out. Remember as well that rye and fescue which tolerate the shade are bunch type grasses and do not spread, they only grow where planted. Some varities of blue grass will handle partial shade a little better - but I wouldn't count on it. So you're not going to get the spreading/filling in effect of the blue grass that you're looking for.

    As well, grass and trees don't grow together naturally, or in the same habitat. We force turf and trees to live together. The customer needs to prioritize - trees or turf! If the trees stay or can't be thinned/limbed up or pruned, than the quality of turf will suffer accordingly. Adjust their expecations for the quality of the lawn according to their priorities.

    Suggestions for proper cultural practices in a shaded lawn:
    1) Raise mowing height to increase size of turf blade for increased photosynthesis.
    2) Reduce N in shady areas
    3) Skip a mowing if possible to reduce traffic on lawn - and let it grow a little taller
    4) Aerate, aerate, aerate
    5) Spot seed or over seed
    6) Water according to budget - surrounding tree roots compete for moisture with lawn

    Soil test for proper pH - apply lime (or sulfur) if needed. If moss is a problem, checking pH is important and so is aeration.
  7. garydale

    garydale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    The 6 points from Lawnlad are right on target.

    I would add that the homeowner should exspect to overseed every fall to replace grass that is going to die.

    Hang in there.
  8. RoyaleRcr

    RoyaleRcr LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    Thanks for the info Lawnlad. Almost all my accounts are lawns over 80 years old. I have tried to explain this to some customers until I am blue in the face. THIS WILL HELP!
    Thank You!
  9. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,943

    Lack thereof, is often a bigger problem! I have a stand of about 6 Maples in my back yard. You can stand under there in a downpour and not even get wet! I'm finally going to fix that this season.

    I'm going to install 2" of topsoil (also to cover exposed tree roots), thin trees extensively, and apply a shade seed (LESCO Shade mix $$$) and water, water, water!!!

    Trees are umbrella's for Sunlight AND water!

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