What Type of Grass Grows Well in Sun and Shade?

Sunlight is a key factor for most plants and grass to grow.  If you have trees or big shrubs, your lawn may not get much sunlight.

Unfortunately most lawns are full or partially shaded.  If the shaded part of your lawn is not planted with the proper grass type, you will not get the results you desire.  Often times getting your lawn aerated will reduce soil compaction and foster new grass growth.

Like plants, grass needs sunlight for proper growth.  Some turfgrasses need full-sun, while others require only partial sunlight.

Some shade-tolerant grasses will flourish with only 4 hours of sunlight a day.  Remember that no turfgrasses can grow in a completely shaded area.

Cool-season grasses grow better in shady areas than warm-season grasses.  The bad news is that in North Texas, cool season grasses will not survive our brutally hot summers.

Let’s discuss some warm-season turfgrasses that can tolerate partial shade:

  • St. Augustine
  • Zoysia
  • Centipede
st augustine grass
St. Augustine grass

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass.  It is also very tolerant of heat, humidity, and salt.

This grass is somewhat tolerant of drought, but not much.  It is a medium-dark green colored turfgrass that grows well in most types of soil and can withstand moderate foot traffic.

Some popular shade-tolerant varieties of St. Augustine are Seville, Palmetto, and Floratam.  Cobalt is a new variety of St. Augustine and is said to be the most drought-resistant of all St. Augustine cultivars, as well as flourishing in shady conditions.

Zoysia

zoysia
Zoysia Grass

Although Zoysia grass is native to Asia, it has been grown in the United States since at least 1895, when the first lawns developed.  It is a warm-season grass, which means it grows actively in warm weather.

The capability of Zoysia grass to withstand heat, drought, continuous foot traffic, and many other obstacles is well-known.  Zoysia is not as shade-tolerant as St. Augustine, but it can survive in light to moderate shade.

Zoysia japonica and Zoysia matrella are the two most common types of Zoysia grass grown in Texas.  Zoysia matrella has a higher tolerance for shade that Zoysia japonica.

centipede grass-shade-tolerant
Centipede Grass

Centipede

Centipede is a warm-season grass that thrives in acidic soil.  It cannot withstand heavy foot traffic, but is very low-maintenance.

It does need to be mowed, fertilized, or watered as often as other grass types.  A nickname for centipede grass is Lazy Man’s grass.

Centipede grass thrives in full-sun, but is able to grow in partially shady conditions.  This type of grass requires at least 6 hours of daily sunlight.

Lawn Substitutes

If you have already tried some of these shade-tolerant turfgrasses to no avail, there are other options.  One of the first things you should try is to remove some tree limbs in an effort to allow more light to shine through.

Many times, this is a quick and easy fix for this issue.  One of the services we offer at JC’s Landscaping is tree trimming.  We would be happy to evaluate your trees to see if cutting off a few limbs will solve the problem.

Another possibility is to renovate that area with some hardscaping.  You may be envisioning a stone area with a water feature or a fire pit.  You could also install stone flower beds and plant some shade-loving shrubs and flowers.

There are more choices than you may think.  Stone and landscaping installation is one of our specialities here at Jc’s Landscaping.  Putting down groundcovers such as monkey grass, liriope, or ajua is another option to consider.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you decide to do with the bare patches in your grass, don’t be discouraged.  There are a multitude of things that you can do to transform those areas into spaces of beauty.

St. Augustine is the grass that is the most tolerant of shade.  Zoysia is the second best turfgrass option.  Centipede should be considered for areas that get at least 6 hours of sunlight.

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