As the sun gets lower in the sky, the amount of sunlight your lawn will receive will decrease – but how much shade can your lawn tolerate, and what can you do about it?
When most new lawns go in following housing construction, quite often shade is overlooked as a factor as any trees and shrubs are often newly planted as well and won’t affect the lawn for some time. With shrinking block sizes and larger homes becoming more of the norm, however, shade can be an issue for your lawn from neighbouring buildings.
- Water your lawn less frequently in shaded areas
- Prune trees and shrubs back to allow more sunlight to your lawn
- Never mow off more than one-third of the leaf at a time
- Choose a shade tolerant turf variety
Consider the effort stadiums go to these days to manage their turf with massive grow-light setups and closable roofs and you’ll get an idea of how the professionals try to manage shade. Managing the shade itself at home if you can is also a priority and may require routine pruning of trees, bushes and other foliage to allow as much sunlight as possible onto your lawn. Avoid over-watering, as shade prevents the quick evaporation of dew or surface water and continued dampness encourages diseases that inhabit growing grass.
It is best to water shaded areas only when absolutely necessary and then water deeply. When mowing, never cut more than one-third of the length of the blade. It can be best in shady areas to remove clippings to allow as much light as possible to reach the soil. If your lawn refuses to grow in a high-shade area regardless of what you do, unfortunately, the last option could be to remove the lawn and replace it with a new pathway or garden bed, or – we hate to say it – artificial turf.
The amount of shade will vary with the time of year and the aspect of the lawn area to these structures. In these circumstances, it helps from the outset to choose the right lawn type to keep your lawn alive in heavy shade. Soft Leaf Buffalo grasses like Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo in Australia tend to do the best in the shade with most tolerating 50 to 70 percent shade. This is about three to four hours of direct sun each day, or speckled sunlight from trees for the majority of the day.
Sir Grange Zoysia is a new highly shade tolerant turf variety that requires very low fertilising and inputs due to its extremely slow growth habit. As a result, Sir Grange doesn’t require as much sunlight, so it can survive in areas of high shade better than most turf varieties currently available.
Another turf variety that has impressive shade tolerance qualities is TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda. TifTuf has increased gibberellic acid production which results in superior stimulation of photosynthesis. This greatly assists in its winter colour retention as well as the plant’s ability to have increased photosynthesis, meaning it has a greater ability to absorb sunlight. In simple terms, this means that it needs 50% less sunlight than all other Bermuda’s.