4 Best Grass Seed For Shade

By PropertyClub Team
Apr 8th 2023
Some of the best grass seed varieties for shade are perennial ryegrass, red fescue, velvet bentgrass, and rough bluegrass. Here’s what you need to know about how to plant and grow these grasses in shady areas. 

hash-markTable of Contents

Best Grass Seed For Shaded Areas
Will Grass Seed Grow in the Shade?
How To Grow Grass In the Shade
How Do I Grow Grass in Heavy Shade?
Tips for Planting Grass Seed in a Shady Area
How Long Does It Take for Grass Seed to Grow in Shade?
Best Grass Seed For Shade Bottom Line

hash-markBest Grass Seed For Shaded Areas

  1. Perennial Ryegrass
  2. Velvet Bentgrass
  3. Red Fescue
  4. Rough Bluegrass

1. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is the best grass seed for shaded areas. Perennial ryegrass is a dark green, thin-bladed grass that can flourish in the shade. Most varieties require between 2 and 4 hours of direct sunlight a day or dappled shade. Perennial ryegrass also germinates quickly, between 7 and 14 days. 

2. Velvet Bentgrass

Another great grass seed for shady areas is Velvet bentgrass. Found in shaded areas on golf courses, velvet bentgrass is a popular perennial cool-season grass that flourishes in medium to heavy shade. It usually germinates within 14 days of planting.

3. Red Fescue

Another one of the best grasses to grow in the shade, red fescue is a cool-season grass that germinates between 12 and 22 days. Red fescue prefers cooler climates and grows extremely well in shady areas. 

4. Rough Bluegrass

Not only does rough bluegrass grow in shaded areas, but it also does well in areas that receive considerable foot traffic. Rough bluegrass takes between 14 and 30 days to germinate.

hash-markWill Grass Seed Grow in the Shade?

Some types of grass seeds can grow in shady conditions, but other types of grass cannot grow in the shade. It all depends on the type of grass you’re trying to grow. 

Another thing to consider when trying to grow grass seed in the shade is the level of shade, which are as follows:

  • Full shade
  • Heavy shade caused by thick tree canopies
  • Dappled shade that is light penetrating shady tree branches
  • Partial shade 

Full shade refers to an area that receives no sunlight, while partial shade means an area gets sunlight for a fraction of the day.

hash-markHow To Grow Grass In the Shade

Before digging into how to grow grass in heavy shade, let’s review the three necessary steps required to grow grass in areas that receive sunlight at least at some part of the day.

  • Buy a seed that grows in shade
  • Plant the grass seed according to the package instructions
  • Water consistently

hash-markHow Do I Grow Grass in Heavy Shade?

Heavy shade falls between full shade and dappled shade. An area that receives heavy shade gets a glimpse of sunlight every day. All grass types require a healthy dose of water and nutrients, but for grass to grow in a heavily shady area, you need to do more than water and wait.

1. Understand the Composition of the Soil

Most property owners complete a soil test either right before or right after they buy a property. The composition of soil changes over time because of factors like chemicals and erosion. Conducting a soil test helps you determine what types of nutrients you need to apply before planting a seed that sprouts shade grass.

2. Eliminate Invasive Plants

A wide variety of weeds like English Ivy love taking over the barren spots caused by heavy shade. Your job is to remove the invasive plants before you apply any nutrients to the soil. Pull weeds not just in the barren shady spot, but also along the perimeter of the heavily shaded area.

3. Consider Climate Change

Discover whether the region where you live is home to cool-season or warm-season grass. Cool-season grasses thrive when the temperature falls between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, warm-season grasses love temperatures that exceed 65 degrees and remain under 80 degrees.

4. Ask for Help

Let’s say you like the look of the grass that grows in a shady area at a nearby municipal park. Ask the groundskeeper the secret to growing shade grass. You should also contact a local nursery to find out what is the best grass for shady areas.

hash-markTips for Planting Grass Seed in a Shady Area

Most grasses stress out when exposed to conditions that receive little if any sunlight. However, you can do a few things to enhance the growth process.

1. Let There Be Light

If the sun cannot find its way to a shady area, you can still shine a light on a shady area by safely cutting off tree branches and pruning thick bushes. Ask an arborist how to remove branches, without damaging trees. There might be plenty of dead branches that you can remove before you decide whether to take off healthy branches.

2. Beware of Moss

Shady areas are notorious for moss development because of the moisture that develops on the surface. By leveling areas of a shady area, you prevent undulating terrain from collecting moisture that fosters the growth of harmful moss.

3. Remove Debris

A shady spot is going to have a difficult enough time growing grass, without having debris such as fallen leaves covering the soil. Clear out a shady area to encourage grass that grows in shade.

4. Add Nutrients

Right before it is time to strategically place shade-resistant seeds into the ground, take what you learned from your soil test, and apply a fertilizer that contains the types of nutrients the soil needs. 

5. Overseed and Let the Soil Rest

Overseed a shady area to ensure you cover as much soil as possible. Seed in early summer for warm-season grass, and in mid-spring and early fall for cool-season grass. Make sure to keep foot traffic away from the shady area where you want to grow grass.

Finally, save yourself time and frustration by examining the roots located just beneath the soil. Large trees with large roots make it difficult for shade grass seeds to compete for water and nutrients.

hash-markHow Long Does It Take for Grass Seed to Grow in Shade?

It typically takes between 7 to 30 days for grass seeds to start germinating. However, when it comes to growing grass in shade, it can take a little longer, typically between 12 and 30 days. 

hash-markBest Grass Seed For Shade Bottom Line

It seems counterintuitive to grow grass in a shady area of your property. Low sunlight, depleted nutrients, and moisture that encourages the growth of invasive moss and weeds can make it difficult to turn a shady area into a bright green section of your lawn. However, by following a few tips and knowing the best grass seed for a shady area, you can grow grass in most shaded areas.