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Environmental Factors | Cultural
Factors | Shade
tolerant grasses | Home
Grasses grown under reduced light conditions have
reduced plant vigor and hardiness, along with reduced growth of
roots, rhizomes, stolons and shoots. This results in the
plants being more susceptible to stresses such as heat, drought,
cold and wear and thus often die as a result of the increased
shade stress. Total loss of the turf grasses in a shaded
area can result if the light reduction is severe.
If the shaded area receives at least
several hours of full sunlight, such as under individual trees...
it is usually possible to grow a turf cover. Growing an
adequate turf grass under the shade created by groupings of
multiple trees is much harder to accomplish. Keep in mind
that grasses were adapted for lawns from the wide open full sun
areas of grassland plains. Grasses in general were not a
part of the dense forest canopy and even today are NOT found
within high shade forests.
Select based on your growing ZONE area - Remember this can overlap
Grasses suitable for shade
use are also dependent on the area they will grow in. As
warm season grasses move further Northward their shade tolerance
Shaded grasses tend to be more succulent (contain more
water ).. and thus subject to damage due to heat, cold, drought, and wear stresses.
Disease and insect resistance also declines relative to the light intensity
of the location and the increased succulence of the grass.
Grasses under shade also grow more stemmy and more erect upright,
thus they tend to be defoliated more when mowed. Tree roots
also play a big part in reducing the ability of grasses to grow in
the shade area. Just try and dig or rototill under a tree
and you will understand that where you cannot dig... neither can a
grass root grow. It is also
There are several types of shade from light shade to full shade
to heavy shade and those in between including half shade and
dappled shade. A turf for a shaded area must be chosen for its
shade tolerant properties. Too much shade can cause thinning of
the turf and can even cause it to die out completely. Temperature,
however, must also be considered when determining the variety of turf grass
chosen. The lower temperature of a shaded area will
support some grasses while others will simply not establish.
In heavy shade locations you may be better off planting higher
shade tolerant species such as shrubs or ground covers than turf grasses.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
FOR SHADY AREAS
- 1 - Choose a shade tolerant grass.
- 2 - Improve sunlight to an area by
trimming out limbs. Trimming lower limbs helps a lot.
You can trim a considerable amount of leaf limbs without
changing the ascetic appearance of your tree. Some
experts say up to 35-40% of a trees limbs can be removed to improve
light penetration without changing the visual look of a tree.
- 3 - In high shade areas,
consider planting other plants (instead of grasses)
that have more shade tolerance such as ground covers and shrubs flowers...Examples
include English ivy, red-tip, myrtle, and pachysandra.
- 4 - Mow the grass about 1/3 higher
in shady areas... This reduces the shade stress some by allowing
for more leaf surface to absorb sunlight.
- 5 - Water DEEPLY / but infrequently.
Do not over water as this increase diseases. Shallow watering
forces tree roots to the surface where they compete with your
grass for water and nutrients. Too much water can also
create disease problems, but you must reach a fine balance on
this issue as trees in themselves tend to rob the soil of
water, thus requiring higher water needs.
- 6 - Fungicides may be required to be
applied more in shady areas due to increased disease activity
from the lower temperatures, higher relative humidity and
decreased wind movement
- 7 - Tree leaves &
grass clippings should be removed from shady areas as they
tend to shade the grass and increase shade problems.
- Adjust the environmental
factors for best results
- Use good cultural
practices in your shade areas.
- Consider using a mulch, paving,
straw, or stones if grasses and plants will not survive.
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