Growing grass in a shade garden

pmjtAugust 3, 2009

Please help. For the last 14 years we have tried to grow grass in our backyard which is in total shade. Originally, we planted grass seed and the grass grew reasonably well. Two years ago we completed redid our landscaping and put in sod. Needless to say, it did not take. In April of this year my husband dug it all up and seeded again. This time it did not do so well and currently the grass is very sparse. Our property backs on to a carolinian forest which means there are several very tall, old trees which are predominantly maple and oak. We would really appreciate knowing if there is a specialty brand of seed that we could try planting this fall that may improve our grass. Any and all suggestions would be most appreciated. Sorry if this has already been addressed. This is my first post on GardenWeb.

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You might just be following a course of perpetual frustration :-) Turf grasses just do not thrive under very shady conditions, partially because of the amount of sunlight they receive (or don't!) but also because the conditions that create the shade also make it difficult for lawns to grow. Big trees like maples and oaks have extensive root systems that outcompete smaller plants and rob the soil of nutrients and moisture. The soil tends to be rooty, compacted, dry and nutrient-poor -- conditions that lawns abhor. And the canopies of these trees prevent rain water from falling.

You can try it again (and again) but you may be better off considering some other type of plantings that will succeed under these difficult conditions. Mahonias (grape hollies), Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiea, epimediums, hellebores, bergenia, lamium, sweet woodruff, Geranium macrorrhizum, sarcococca and Christmas fern are all possible choices and research into plants for dry shade in your area will turn up more.

Here is a link that might be useful: The challenges of a shaded lawn......

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 5:58PM
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I have a massive live oak (90 years old or so, according to my real estate appraiser) and I tried for years and years to grow grass under the canopy. Every type of seed I could try, some of them would sprout and quickly die, most did nothing. I finally figured out that grass simply doesn't grow in the shade. So instead of sweating it, I embraced it and went and bought myself about a dozen hostas, some ferns, periwinkle, cast iron plants, anything else I saw that had "full shade" on the tags. That was seven years ago, and every spring I pick up four or five more Hostas, and plant them. So it's getting more and more dense every year, with dozens of varieties of hostas under there. The ferns and other stuff does well, but something about the hostas made me a fan and now it's my favorite plant. I even have some in the house, and some that reside on my shady porch and come inside over the winter. And now there are boardwalks under the tree (it's about a 60 foot diameter shade line) and the boardwalks meet up near the tree and I have a hammock and picnic table under there...I've strung some waterproof speakers and flourescent lighting in the tree and we have cookouts, parties, etc. All because grass doesn't grow in the shade....the only hardship is the leaves, I can't rake them cause it would harm the I just blow them out the best as I can....when the hostas die down for the winter, I go through there with my Snapper rider with the bagger on, and clean all the leaved and old hostas there....

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 4:44PM
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