Tips for Managing Shady Lawn Areas
By practicing the following tips on a consistent basis, you can still have a healthy, green lawn in most shady lawn situations.
- Select shade-tolerant cultivars (plants). You may need to consider a groundcover for deeply shaded locations
- Use mixtures or blends of turf grasses specifically intended for cool-season use when renovating or establishing your lawn area
- Improve the airflow across your landscape by removing any trees and ornamentals, which obstruct wind movement. This will help you deal with disease problems, as well.
- Prune your lower tree branches to improve the penetration of low-angle light
- Selectively prune upper tree limbs to improve light penetration (sun flecks)
- Set your lawn mower to cut your grass relatively high, and don't allow the grass clipping to accumulate on your lawn (in other words, bag them, and if there's no disease, compost them, otherwise dispose of them off-property)
- Prune the roots of tree and ornamentals using a spade-type shovel, or edge your lawn with a trencher periodically. Be sure not to remove more than half of the viable roots beneath the drip line of the tree (the outer edge of the branch/leaf canopy). This is beneficial for trees as well as the grass & turf.
- Control/reduce traffic on the lawn
- Remove fallen tree leaves and clumps of mowing clippings quickly. Letting them stand encourages the growth of fungus and molds.
- Water less frequently but more deeply with each watering. Because it promotes disease, avoid watering your lawn in the late afternoon and evening irrigation.
- Unless prescribed by a professional lawn care provider, reduce your use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and increase the use of potassium-based fertilizers. You can supplement with an iron additive for deeper, greener color.
- When necessary to check disease outbreaks, apply fungicides
- Leave a two-to-four foot turf-free zone – commonly referred to as a mulch ring – around small trees to improve their growth
- Keep the pH of your soil consistent.