What Lawn Seed for Shaded Areas

What Lawn Seed for Shaded Areas

Choosing grass seed for wet shade, building and fence shade, dry shade from trees and partial shade from objects distant from the lawn.

A relatively simple choice if you are repairing and over seeding a thinned lawn due to shade problems. Just use the one that best matches your criteria.

However, if this is for a new lawn and less than 20% of the area to be seeded has a problem with shade then we would suggest going with the seed choice that is suited to 80% of the lawn initially and sow on the whole lawn. Should suspect areas fail within 12 months, they can then be over seeded in the following year with an alternative seed.

Your choices are:

  • If the lawn area is shaded from buildings, fences or solid objects you need Grass Seed for Heavy Shade
  • If the lawn area is shaded from trees, bushes or tall plants you need Grass Seed for Under Trees - Dry Shade
  • If the lawn area gets passing shade from tall distant objects or a mixture of shade then continue below.

Passing Shade

Often this would be any shade cast from a tall building or tall tree where the shaded area of grass is not close to the object causing the shade and the area gets good sun for part of the day.

Example of Passing Shade

An oak tree 35 metres away will not affect the grass much with its roots but shade may be on the lawn for a long time. Other than shade, the impact of the tree is minimal.

Passing Shade Lawn Seed

You can use 3 types of lawn seed mixture. You should decide which one based on secondary benefits:

  • Dry Shade Staygreen is a slightly coarse grass but is very hard wearing
  • Wet Shade Shadygreen is finer, ideal for places with good rain and blends well with Classic
  • Classic is an attractive all-rounder, likes the sun but will manage some passing shade

Mixed Shade

A typical example would be a long, narrow lawn that is more than likely bordered by fences, shrubs, and possibly larger bushes and a tree or two. This is not an easy environment, and quite possibly, there will be added compaction in the lawn from roots and people walking in one track up and down the lawn.

There is no one grass seed that is ideal as there is a lot of shade possibly throughout the year, which means a dedicated shade of grass is required, such as our Shadygreen Grass Seed. However, there would be lots of dry shade around the shrubs, which can mean a different seed is required, such as Staygreen. You should understand neither seed would be perfect, so decide based on which creates the bigger problem: dryness and, therefore, browning and drying grass problems in the summer or shade and, therefore, thinning over winter. For the first, use Staygreen, and for the latter, use Shadygreen.

See the bottom of the page for grass seed mixtures.

For the compaction from traffic you need to hollow tine in Autumn and spike the area as often as possible the rest of the year. See our Aeration topic

Can I use Shade Grass Seed in Full Sun?

Yes you can. They are all happy in the sun but:

  • Shadygreen, due to its great shade tolerance, doesn’t like drying out so only use if you can water the lawn in hot dry weather.
  • Staygreen will love it and tolerates a good amount of shade
  • Classic will thin if the shade is too prolonged

Assessing the Need for Shade Grasses

It is important to consider the whole years light and shade on the lawn as it progresses from spring through to winter. There is no point in buying a shade seed just because last winter the grass thinned in a shaded spot. If it does it every year then yes, a shade seed would be the best bet but a one off bad winter shouldn't sway you from staying with what is best for the lawn most years.

The Limits of Shade Grasses

There comes a point when even the best shade seed gives up the ghost. If you go down to the woods today and there won't be any grass! So, if your spot is so shady even shade grass disappears over winter, then either put something else down or be prepared to over seed every spring and consider it a very normal seasonal gardening job that for a few quid, makes a dull spot a very green spot.

When to Seed Shady Areas

Sow in spring or autumn for shade from buildings and fences. These areas take longer to warm in spring and cool earlier in autumn, so adjust your seeding to take advantage of the warmer weather.

For shade from trees, seed a little earlier than normal in spring to get ahead of the leaves coming on the trees. Avoid autumn because of leaf fall.

See our grass seed mixtures below: