Sod For Shady Areas

We get a lot of calls asking what type of sod is best for the shade. The Virginia and Maryland area does contain quite a few trees that can make growing a lawn more challenging, but not impossible!

A common misconception is that it is impossible to grow a nice lawn in shade. It is in fact possible, but will take a little more care and maintenance! Grass is a living plant, and just like all other plants its survival depends on several different factors. It is true that grass does prefer sunlight, but it will tolerate shade as long as its other needs are met.

Here are some tips for ensuring your sod thrives in moderately shady areas:

  • Use Tall Fescue for shady areas in the Mid-Atlantic: We have found that DuraBlend® Tall Fescue Sod  handles shade better than other types of sod in the area such as Bluegrass, Zoysia, and Bermuda.
  • Use State Certified Sod: The University of Maryland has a research farm where they test and identify the grasses that perform best in the Maryland and Virginia climate. Only the best performing Tall Fescue varieties are eligible to be used in certified sod production. These blends will perform better in our area than seeds that are sold nationally in home improvement stores.
  • Overseed in the Spring and Fall: In heavy shade, Tall Fescue may thin out over the summer since the trees are fully leaved. We recommend overseeding shady areas as the leaves start to fall in October and continue growing until early December. In areas that receive no sunlight, we recommend overseeding the Tall Fescue sod using a fine fescue or creeping red fescue blend . These grasses grow well in shade, but have very poor wear tolerance and poor drought tolerance, so use as a last resort. 
  • Thin out branches: Sometimes trees can be pruned to allow more sunlight to reach the ground. This can be a good alternative to removing the tree!
  • Remove leaves quickly in the Fall: Don't let fallen leaves cover your lawn for more than a day or two. Fallen leaves will completely block sunlight from reaching the grass blades.

Following the above steps will help you to have the best possible lawn in shaded areas. Keep in mind that maintaining grass in the shade will be a challenge, but a decent lawn is attainable!  Please give us a call or shoot us an email if you have any questions!