How to Care for Turfgrass in the Shade

When turfgrass grows in circumstances with heavy shade, it requires care and a specific treatment.

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  1. Low light reduces photosynthesis which in turn reduces carbohydrate production and rooting.
  2. In low light conditions, plants naturally grow upward to outcompete other plants and capture more light.
  3. When the low light is caused by permanent shading (not caused by competing plants) then this can also cause etiolation. Etiolation causes long, stretched-out growth producing weak plants.
  4. The causes of shading (trees/buildings) are also likely to reduce air movement therefore meaning the turf surface stays wet for longer, meaning potential increase in diseases.
  5. Turf growing in shade also has a thinner leaf cuticle which can make the plant more susceptible to disease attack.


How to treat a turf area in the shade

  1. Where possible, manage the environment to reduce the amount of shade. Encourage the turf to grow without excessive vertical growth and encourage better rooting.
  2. Reduce nitrogen inputs versus full-sun areas.
  3. Reduce irrigation compared to full-sun areas.
  4. Dry the surface with use of penetrant wetting agent.
  5. Aerate well to encourage good rooting and movement of surface water.
  6. Increase carbohydrate levels in the plant; select shade-tolerant grass cultivars.