help with grass seed for Hawaii

cathy1506(96818)October 6, 2005

I live on Oahu. My backyard is all shade due to trees on the outside of my little yard. Sod is extremely expensive here. I think St. Augustine is the only grass made for shade. I cannot find that in seed form anywhere. Do you have any suggestions on what grass seed will work for a shaded yard. Not having any luck in the local stores, K-Mart had a Bermuda grass seed, which is for sun. They did have their own brand of seed which told me nothing on what type for sun or shade. Home Depot only had choices for sun. Help... I'm in military housing and don't want to spend a lot on sod since we may only be here a year or less.

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St. Augustine grass will not grow in shade. It is not sold as seed. Most grass species will not grow well in shade. The deeper the shade the less likely even weed grasses will grow.

Do you want grass so that you can use the space for sitting or some other purpose or do you just want something to cover the bare soil?

If you want to use the space you may need to go with gravel, bark, or mulch and forget about grass if it is very shady. If you just want to cover the soil, pothos, syngonium or ivy can be used as a shady groundcover.

If you absolutely have to have grass, Rye grass will grow for a while but it will never form a lawn.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 2:38AM
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I want grass for the nice look and also dirt is not pleasant to drag around on your shoes when it's wet. It just ends up getting everything filthy dirty.

I just bought a Scott's Dynasty tall fescue seed. I figured if they were selling it in the stores here, it's made for here. It said for sun and shade. The sun does poke through in spots throughout the day. Do you think it will work. I have overturned the soil, worked in steer manue and also used Scott's starter fertilizer.

I have a pond with a fountain in the yard, tropical plants and a border of large rocks. I want the grass for the nice green look plus I have a dog. Ground cover isn't really made to walk on. It's good for the beds where your flowers are to choke out weeds. What do you think?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 6:53PM
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I think you have added a dog to a small shady yard and made the possibility of grass even more remote. I hope it is a small dog for a small yard and not a big dog.

I am not real familar with Oahu but I think it is safe to assume that military housing is in the lower elevations and not above 2500'. Scott's Dynasty tall fescue seed is sold in Hawaii but fescue is not a tropical grass. Fescue is a nothern temperate zone grass and may do ok at higher elevations in Hawaii.

What you have in your favor with this seed is the shade, the onset of cooler winter weather and your short stay there. The grass seed will germinate and grow and may do fine over the winter, it just will not spread and fill in so seed it thick. As it heats up next summer this northern grass will stress and slowly die out. Foot and dog traffic in a confined space will not help either. By then it may be time to ship out again.

DO NOT WEED anything that looks like a grass when things come up. Your soil prep work may encourage naturalized grasses as well as other broadleafed weeds to germinate and grow. Theses weed grasses may be what end up giving you a lawn. Just remove the broadleafed weeds, water, fertilize lightly and mow on a high setting. You are covering the dirt in a small shady dog yard not making a putting green at Turtle Bay.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 10:22PM
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Cathy, I read this post today in the professionals forum (link below). If you don't get much success with your seed in about 8 weeks you may want to reconsider and go with pea gravel. It is small enough to walk pretty comfortably on and will give you a clean look that covers the dirt.


Here is a link that might be useful: Grass won't Grow

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 10:35PM
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Thanks for your help. The grass seed grew in nicely. Then, I reseeded, chased birds away for 2 weeks. It was very fine blades and fragile looking. If walked on, it stayed smashed. Six weeks later, it hasn't gotten any stronger. It pulls right out of the ground easily and smashes if walked on. We just put mulch down. I figure I'm just gonna have a natural yard instead.

Now, I'm trying to figure out why my impatients are dying. We put a pond in. I put impatients in front of it. They like shade, so why are they dying? My mandivilla isn't looking so good either. Pain in the *** this is. I'm battling bugs too on the underside of my tomato and green pepper plants. I thought Hawaii were have the perfect climate to grow a veggie garden year-round!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 4:45PM
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Well Hello again Cathy,

Impatiens actually will not do all that well in deep shade either. They prefer some bright indirect light. You may want to switch to spathiphyllum, anthuriums, agloanema, dieffenbachia, ferns or some other shade tolerant foliage type plants for around the pond.

Winter is the best time for vegetables in Hawaii though you can grow the hot season stuff like pepper, corn, tomato and beans year round. They all absolutely positively must have full sun.

Hawaii as you are finding out is the perfect year round climate for growing bugs.

It sounds to me like you have a small very shady garden. You need to work with that. You can create a lush tropical retreat in those conditions that will be attractive and serve your needs. You must choose your plants accordingly though to get results.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 7:20PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Cathy,

You may need to prune a few branches to let in a bit more light if you are having difficulty growing shady plants. It might also be too much wind or something else keeping them from thriving. The really brightly colored New Zealand Impatiens also like more light than the other varieties, too.

Do any of your neighbors have nice grass in the shade? If they do, ask if you can have a few starts of it. I have at least a dozen different types of grasses in my yard. There is one type planted by the fellow who lived here before which grows well and stays short, I haven't a clue what type it is. I dig up starts of it and move it to other areas that have grass which needs cutting all the time.

If your tomatoes are the large fruited variety, you may have difficulty getting fruits since the fruit fly likes to sting the tomato fruit. It then falls off instead of ripening. If you have a cherry tomato variety, especially an "indeterminate" type of tomato plant, it will give lots of fruit and keep growing for a long time. Roma works well, as well as any of the cherry types.

Perhaps a papaya plant might be a nice choice? They grow well in many different conditions and don't have too many bugs. Collards can grow well and last for years. Also lima beans, but green beans will die off within a year. Sweet potatos are also a garden favorite around my area. We just dug several basketfulls today.

A hui hou,
Cathy on the Big Island

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 12:25AM
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