6 Shade Tolerant Grass & How to Grow Them?

Shade is an important factor when preparing a new lawn or reseeding a turf that already existed. However, sun-loving grass cannot be grown in the shade. It will instantly lose its color and tolerance to diseases and drought. It could even get oversaturated, causing fungi to develop in them. While all grasses need some amount of sunlight, some varieties are tolerant to shade. These can survive with just four or six hours of partial sunlight or the filtered sunlight from the leaves. Read on to know about the best shade-tolerant grasses and how you can grow them.

Does Your Area Support Cool or Warm Season Grass?

The turf grasses can be categorized as cool-season and warm-season grasses. The cold season grasses survive in areas with temperatures ranging between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm-season grasses survive in regions experiencing summer temperatures between 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool-season grasses are capable of tolerating shade better. However, your choice of grass should be determined based on the region where you stay in.

6 Shade Tolerant Grass

When you are establishing a new lawn, either using hydroseed, sod, or grass seed, the sunlight and shade conditions are the major factor to consider. Some grasses need direct sunlight, while others thrive even in shady areas. If there are tall buildings and trees near your lawn, this indicates that some parts of your lawn will stay shaded for a considerable amount of time. You thus need to choose a grass species accordingly. Listed below are some of the shade-resistant grasses that survive in low sunlight conditions.

1. Augustine Grass

best shade tolerant grass

A warm-season grass, St. Augustine grows well in the shaded areas. It does have some requirements for sunlight but does not need a prolonged period of exposure. Bitter blue, Sapphire Seville, and Palmetto are some of the St. Augustine grass cultivars that are unaffected by shade, making them some of the best grasses to grow in areas that receive partial sunlight.

  • Growing requirements

Floratam is a commonly grown St Augustine cultivar which needs just 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. The Sapphire, Seville, and Palmetto need only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight each day. If the grass is completely deprived of sunlight, then you can see it thinning. It is also prone to attack from disease and shows a very stunted growth. If your lawn is fully shaded, then there are still ways to grow this grass species. Just cut a canopy over the lawn, which will allow a good amount of sunlight to enter.

2. Bluegrass

The Rough variety of Bluegrass is the best to plant if you have a lot of shade on the lawn. The Rough Bluegrass easily adapts to cold, wet, and shady areas. However, if the temperature is very hot, then this can cause the turf to die, leaving back some bare spots. 

  • Growing requirements

If the temperate is not very hot, this grass variety can survive even under long trees with just 4 hours of filtered sunlight. Just ensure that the climate is pleasant and the soil is moist. The Kentucky Bluegrass is also a great cool-season lawn grass that grows well in partially shaded areas.

3. Fescue

Fescue is perfect for partially shaded areas. However, it will die if it is grown in a densely shaded place. It is cool-season grass, and the tall fescues are an excellent addition to your lawn. The turf type is tolerant to shade and can grow in areas that experience low fertility and drought-like conditions. Fescue is resistant to shade, but if there is a preference, it would still like the full sun that promotes its coverage and growth

  • Growing requirements

Fescue can easily survive with just 4 to 6 hours of dappled or filtered sunlight. Along with this, ensure that it is given proper care like watering adequately and mowing higher. Applying some amount of fertilizer that contains nitrogen lets the fescue grass stay healthy even in shaded regions. The red fescue, the chewing fescue, and the fine fescue are the cool season varieties tolerant to shade.

4. Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is another popular grass species that are tolerant to shade. It cannot grow in a completely shaded area, but it has a low light tolerance.

  • Growing requirements

Zoysia grass is a warm-season turfgrass and can thrive with just 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight. Thus if your lawn is partially shaded with tall buildings and tall trees at a distance, then this could be a viable option. Zeon is a variety of the Zoysia grass that stands as the topmost grass variety in this sect based on its shade tolerance. The grass can usually be seen planted in the sports fields and it’s a common golf course grass. Geo is another turf that can stand the stress. Do not cultivate Emerald Zoysia if your lawn area is shaded for many hours. 

5. Rye Grass

Ryegrass is tolerant to shade, but not all the varieties can be grown in the shaded regions of your lawn. The Perennial Ryegrass is one of the best varieties that grow in the shaded region. This cultivar does not demand extensive sunlight hours.

  • Growing requirements

The Perennial Ryegrass should be planted in an area that gets at least 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight. The Perennial grass does not survive in areas that receive dappled or filtered sunlight. The species is a cool-season turf and prefers a temperature between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is some moisture in the lawn, then it is shade tolerant even in the summer months. However, if the summer month’s temperatures soar over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the Ryegrass will not survive.

6. Ornamental grasses

In some circumstances, it could get tough to maintain the shade-tolerant grasses in your lawn. This is when you can choose to grow tall ornamental grasses instead. As the name reveals, these are decorative grasses that hide any ugly spots in your lawn caused by dead grass owing to the shade.

Some examples of ornamented grasses include:

  • Korean feather reed grass.
  • Blue grama grass
  • Japanese forest grass
  • Little Miss maiden grass
  • Fall blooming reed grass.
  • Autumn moor grass
  • Liriope

These grasses grow very fast and from foliage with artificial clumps. They usually have variegated leaves. This foliage with different colors beautifies your lawn, making these grasses a great choice for your garden.

How to Grow Shade Tolerant Grass?

Although every grass species has its requirements to grow in the shaded region of your lawn, here we list some care tips that should be followed, whatever may be the grass variety. The tips will ensure that your grass grows thick and full.

Even if the grass is highly tolerant to shade, it still needs to be cared for diligently. The grass needs to compete with the other roots to get the required water, oxygen, and nutrients. Here is the primary care routine for all kinds of shade-tolerant grasses

  • Reduce stress by minimizing the foot traffic in areas that receive very little sunlight.
  • Increase the height of mowing that gives the grass blade more surface area that allows maximum sunlight absorption.
  • Promptly treat any lawn diseases as exposure to shade for long makes the grass prone to fungal infections and diseases because of the wet and cool climate.
  • Overseeding lets the grass grow denser than the weeds.
  • Planting a dense shade mix helps. The shade mix seeds let the grass grow even if it receives filtered sunlight.
  • Immediately get rid of any stubborn weeds for it not to choke your grass turf.
  • Grasses growing in the shaded areas need extra feed than those that are increasing fully under the sun. This is because the grasses growing in the shaded regions need to fight harder for nutrients. The standard feed may not suffice to enable a thick growth under the shade.


You can use combination grass to give your lawn a uniform look. Like for example, you can choose a grass blend of Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass. This will let the overall turf stay healthy even when the Bluegrass performs poorly in the shaded region because the Fescue is there to hold on. You must prune any overgrown branches of the trees regularly so that the grass receives filtered sunlight through the trees.

The shade-tolerant grasses perform differently in different regions. So when you shop for shade-tolerant grass, make sure that you buy one that is adapted to your region. The grasses that are highly tolerant to shade can easily survive with just 4 hours of direct or even filtered sunlight. You will, however, not be able to find grass that can survive with no sunlight at all. This is not natural because grasses too need sunlight for photosynthesis. Regular pruning the tree branches over the shade-tolerant grass is the way to receive sunlight penetration to let the grasses grow healthy and survive longer.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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