To some degree, grass variety dictates the type of care a lawn needs. But all varieties respond to certain basic lawn care routines. These are proper fertilizing, watering, and mowing and the nourishing benefits of the sun. Today we take a look at ways to make your lawn perform its best in both sun and shade.

Choose Grass Seed Suited for the Environment

When it comes to lawn care, we can’t do much about when and how much the sun shines. We can do something about the types of seed we put down in shady or sunny areas. While most grass varieties will thrive with 6 hours of sun a day, some varieties get along very well with 4.

Choose grass seed varieties according to the environment in which they will be grown.

Choose grass seed varieties according to the environment in which they will be grown.

Rye grass and fine and red fescues tolerate the shade the best. These varieties will grow well in four to six hours of dappled sunlight. Warm-season grasses that grow in some shade are not optimal in Canada. Most warm-season varieties simply won’t survive Canadian winters.

Lawn supply companies and stores will stock the right grass seed combinations suited for the Canadian growing season and topography of the area. Choose mixed seeds for shaded areas so that if one type fails another may make it. It is never wise to economise when it comes to grass seed. Budget bags contain a higher percentage of weed seeds and are not very tolerant of dry spells or shade.

In sunny areas Kentucky bluegrass performs well. Bluegrass is a beauty but it is finicky. It is tough to get established and it won’t tolerate much shade or moisture extremes. In addition, bluegrass has a delicate texture that may not hold up as well to foot traffic. Still, it responds well to fertilizers, utilizing nitrogen better than other grass varieties and therefore reducing leaching. It also tolerates a wide range of temperatures.  Opt for the newer cultivars that resist disease more readily.

Prune Trees to Increase Light

Pruning trees and bushes can maximize the sun that reaches the lawn in shady areas. To allow more light through the tree branches and create the dabbled sunlight mentioned earlier, prune the interior branches. Tree health is

To maximize sunlight under trees, have the interior branches pruned.

To maximize sunlight under trees, have the interior branches pruned.

generally enhanced by removing some inner branches because air circulates through the branches better. Do not attempt tree pruning yourself unless you have knowledge of the best practices of pruning.

Mow More in Sun, Less in Shade

In general, lawn in shady areas needs fewer mowings and can be clipped higher, 9 to 10 cm., than in sunny locations. Taller grass has more surface area per leaf and therefore takes in more sunlight. In addition, shadier areas may benefit from cutting the grass in different directions per mowing.

Water Lawn Under Trees More Often

Tree-shaded areas also require more water than sunnier locations. The reason is that the trees suck up a lot of the water. Tree leaves also act as an umbrella, preventing lighter rains from reaching the grass beneath. Where buildings or other structures shade lawn, the grass won’t need extra watering. In fact, in these shaded areas, grass tends to need less water because the sun doesn’t dry it out.

Overseed All Areas

Overseed lawn at least two times a year,  in spring and fall. Cool-season grass is best sown in the fall, so fall is the optimal time to sow grass seed in Canada. You can’t go wrong with overseeding. It helps create a thick carpet that chokes out weeds. You will need to overseed the shady areas more often than the sunny to get the best grass coverage you can.

Pull Weeds

Weed-free grass is hardier and thicker. Weeds have a detrimental

Make pulling weeds routine, uprooting them before they go to seed.

Make pulling weeds routine, uprooting them before they go to seed.

effect on grass and this is especially true of shaded grass. We recommend taking out weeds by hand.  Regular weed pulling will minimize the task in the long run. Weeds let go to seed increase in number and exacerbate their detrimental effect on your lawn. Studies show that weed-pulling is about the most effective measure you can take to reduce weeds in your lawn. In order to reduce the negative effects of weeds and reduce your workload in the long run, you have to make weed pulling a routine.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

The other option besides grass for deep shade areas like under trees is mulch. In fact, it is probably the best choice for deep shade around trees. The soil beneath trees tends to be acidic and grass prefers a more neutral pH. Stone, bark and wood chips look great beneath trees and the trees will respond well to the covering. Be careful not to mulch over 4 inches deep around trees because trunks need air. Mulch comes in many colours that complement the landscape. Choose lighter colours for shady areas.



Both sun and shade have their benefits as far as enjoying our lawns are concerned. And both environments have their own lawn care needs. Your lawn care professional will employ the best lawn care practices in both environments.