June 2013 Blog

Grass... A shady character?

Grass... A shady character?


At least once a month we get a call from a new customer
looking for help with their lawn. "It's sparse," we're
told, "and I want to get my lawn nice and thick."
We had one of these instances recently and headed out to
take a look.

What we saw in the backyard was this: A 40' tree (and
almost as wide) on one side of the yard and another just
like it on the other side of the yard. We also saw moss,
sparse grass, and many bare spots. The culprit of this
poor-looking lawn? Shade!

We explained to the customer that without proper sunlight,
he will never get a lush lawn, but the customer wouldn't
buy it. He was already talking about fertilizing, aeration,
over-seeding and dethatching. We explained to him that he
would be wasting his money on these things, without first
addressing the shade problem. He just wanted a quick fix -
and was not interested.

We don't make the rules- it's all in Mother Natures hands.
All of the "shade-mixes" of grass seed have given people
the impression that sun is optional when it comes to a nice
lawn. While a shade-mix is great for a little shade, to
date, there isn't a single variety of grass that doesn't at
least need 4 or more hours of direct sunlight.

Here's the facts from Cornell University about grass and
shade:
1. Shade reduces energy production in grass.
2. Shade causes grasses to become weak and susceptible to
stresses and pests,
3. Shade causes thin turfgrass or barespots that lead to
surface runoff.

So what can you do if major pruning or removing trees is
not an option?

1. Prune as many smaller branches you can with a pole saw.
2. Do select a shade mix
3. Fertilize less often- because plants in low light grow
more slowly.
4. Mow at the high end of the recommended mowing height for
the species.
5. Don't fight Mother Nature! Consider mulching around the
base of trees or plant a shade-loving ground cover such as
pachysandra, lily of the valley, ivy, or vinca.