Home & Garden Gardening

What Type of Shade Grass Is Recommended for the Cool Season and Warm Season?

Question: What is the best shade grass?


Shade grass grows in a wide variety of light conditions, from partial shade (four to six hours of sunlight) to full shade (less than two hours of sunlight). Shade can also refer to dappled shade (light penetrating shady tree branches), and light or heavy shade (under varying tree canopies). 

The best cool season shade grasses are from the fescue family, but there is also another type called supina bluegrass that is worth your consideration.

Creeping red fescue is the best performer but is often blended with hard fescue and Chewings fescue to address varying degrees of shade and different soil types. Tall fescues also do well in the shade and it is not uncommon to find it in seed blends specialized for shade.

Each fescue variety contains many different cultivars, some preferred for their disease resistance, drought tolerance or soil adaptability. Some specialized cultivars are more expensive and mainly used in high-end applications like golf courses. A mid-priced shade cultivar usually works for residential lawns.

The best warm season shade grass is St. Augustinegrass, but it cannot be bought as seed. It must be sprigged or planted as sod. Zoysiagrass and Centipedegrass are also decent shade performers for southern climates. In the Northeast and North Central areas, these grasses don't tolerate shade. 

Always keep in mind that it may be easier and better for the environment to use a plant that is more suitable for a shady location than grass.

Consider a shade loving ground cover

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