The key problem in maintaining a lawn in dense shade is insufficient sunlight to allow the plant to survive. At all times the lawn must be maintained with this environment in mind. Mowing, raking, fertilizing, and watering become extremely important with respect to the overall health of the lawn. Negligence in any of these areas can adversely affect the lawn to the point of severe damage. Since most grasses grown in the shade are slow growing, any damage will take much longer to recover than areas in direct sunlight.
The following are some helpful hints to help you with this very difficult maintenance situation.
Mowing – Mow at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2inches. This has two effects: It increases leaf area, thereby giving the plant increased sunlight gathering capabilities. There is also a direct relationship between top growth height and root depth. Generally for each 2 inches of top growth there is 1 inch of root depth. Raking – During the Fall and Spring it is necessary to get the leaves up as soon as possible. Since there are no leaves overhead to restrict sunlight, it gives the lawn a chance to maximize the use of sunlight during these times.
Watering – Try to water only during the early morning. The reason for this is that water on the plant is very conducive to fungus disease growth. In most shade areas, restricted air movement combined with lack of sunlight make for a slow drying situation, the perfect environment for fungal growth. By watering in early morning, you are giving the plant a chance to dry out as rapidly as possible.
Fertilizing – Since most lawn areas in the shade are slow growing, less nitrogen is needed. Excessive nitrogen than the plant can use may cause burning and eventually thinning out of the turf. The quickest way to ruin a shaded lawn is to over fertilize; this is why one or two heavy applications of fertilizer is one of the worst things that can be done. These areas require a steady, adequate supply of fertilizer in proper amounts.
Seed – Fine Fescue, Shady Grass Mix, Glade Bluegrass.