Growing grass in dense shade?

rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)April 30, 2005

Hello! I am desperately trying to figure out a way to get grass to grow in the densest of shade in our backyard. Most of the yard is wooded with oaks and another good chunk of the yard is our deck. But between the two we have about 1500 square feet of what was once sod that we laid. It died out the following year so we tried seeding (two years in a row). The seed sprouted as long as the sun could break through the trees. But come June it's dense back there and even though the seed claims to be for dense shade (mostly fescues) it just doesn't seem to work.

Now DH wants to just woodchip the whole backyard but I don't think that will look very go from a nice green lawn in front to all woodchips on the other side of the fence. I need the greenery and I don't know why.

Should we scrape up the remaining (dead) sod back there and get some fresh black dirt and try seeding again (which means muddy dog footprints LOL)? Or is there an easier way?

Thanks for any suggestions you all have to offer.

Kristy :)

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creatrix(z7 VA)

Go with the wood chips and start a shady perennial garden. If you've tried three times to grow grass with no luck, it's time to move on.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 5:38PM
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grass doesn't grow in the shade. never meant to. isn't intended to. don't care what 'shady mix' you put down, it's not going to work.

if it's going to get dog play, wood chips (or coarse mulch, since I agree with you that the hardwood chips look like hell) are the way to go, with room for shade perennial beds- tall Ostrich and short japanese ferns, astilbes, hostas, hellbores, heck, my old ditch lillies don't bloom as hard in the shade, but they do bloom!

bleeding hearts and hydrangeas... you can have your green, without struggling with grass.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 9:32AM
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sandykk(z6 MD)

I have a very shady back yard. Large Tulip Poplars everywhere, plus the house blocks a lot of the sun. Anyway, always had trouble keeping the grass growing. Last year we bought the Shady Nooks seed and put that down. Wow, this Spring I can't believe the difference in our lawn were there used to be dirt. So far, so good. I will have to wait and go through summer to really see how well it does. But so far, where there was always dirt before, we have grass now and I'm a happy camper.

Here is what they say about it:

Shady Nooks Grass Seed by Jonathan Green

A mixture of shade tolerant grasses for heavily shaded lawn areas.

Grows in Dark - dank corners and nooks where shade and poor drainage is a problem.
Contains Perennial Grasses that blend well with existing lawn when re-seeding.
Excellent for starting a new lawn or re-seeding thin lawns.
Germinates in 10 to 14 days, for fast coverage.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 1:08PM
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riconiferman(z6 RI)

Heavy tree cover also inhibits grass from growing due to sucking up much of the moisture. The grass, until quite well established, would need heavy irrigation. It's not just a matter of the right seed.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 12:43AM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

Thanks for all the input! I think I might try one more time and order the Shady Nooks seed and see how that goes. This will be my last effort at grass in the back though.

Thanks again!
Kristy :)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 10:41AM
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you will never ever get grass to grow in deep shade in zone 4, I don't care what variety it is. Shade-loving perennials work, although even then you have to be selective this far north. I have a beautiful "shade" garden in Vermont that actually gets 3-4 hours's so cool that I wonder if it were totally shaded, if these same plants would bloom (dicentris; aconitum; digitalis grandiflora, etc.) these plants like full shade further south, but here they appreciate the sun! Also, with perennials, you obviously can't walk on it. If you want a WALKABLE shade groundcover, then your best bet is sweet woodruff. Grows beautifully in shade, smells lovely, and easy to yank out if you decide you want to mix it up with perennials (unlike many groundcovers, which can be hard to get rid of.)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 9:45PM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

Oh are digging deep into the threads! It's funny that you replied though because I posted this question again quite recently. We have decided to nix the idea based on past experience and what many people have had to say about the subject as well.

Just today I planted a whole bunch of hostas and a few other woodland plants so I can get some greenery back there. I've given up on the ground cover idea....for now.

Thanks for the reply!
Kristy :)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 9:51PM
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I actually stumbled on it by accident tonight and didn't realize until just now how old your posting was. i'm sure you've got a good plan by now!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 10:22PM
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What time of year is best to plant a seed blend like Shady Nooks Grass Seed by Jonathan Green? And does anyone have any tips or advice about planting grass for a lawn in general? I live in Albuquerque, NM, and we're trying to get some grass growing in a couple of pretty densely shaded areas of my parents' lawn.

Thank you.

PS: I was going to post this question as a separate thread, but then I came across this old one and thought it better to resurrect it and have all the information together. Is it better to start another thread?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 8:34PM
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Better to start a new thread. Threads older than a few months (let alone nearly 10 years!!) seldom get the interest or traffic a new thread does.

And since lawn type and timing of planting varies widely depending on location, you might be best posting this in your regional, Southwestern Gardening forum. At this time of the year planting a lawn from seed is not advised even in my very mild, cool summer Maritime climate.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 5:27PM
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