Maintaining Turf Grass in Dense Shade

Northwest winters, combined with a high population of shade trees can create havoc for the lawn that attempts to grow in their midst. Lack of sunlight, cooler temperatures, and competition for fertility and moisture with the trees make it difficult to establish and maintain a healthy turf under the leaf canopy.

Thinning of turfgrass in dense shade usually occurs in the winter months. Factors such as the lower angle of the sun and reduced brightness rob the grass plants of much needed sunlight.

Further stress is caused by soil compaction from rain water dripping off the trees at the drip line and a heavy concentration of leaves and needles choking out the grass plants.

The following procedure will amend the soil, introduce extremely shade tolerant varieties of grass seed, and maximize your potential to establish a beautiful lawn in dense shade:

1. Remove leaves, needles and other debris from the area under the tree(s).

2. Core-aerate the entire area, removing small plugs of soil. These holes make it possible to relieve compaction, lower the acidity, and introduce soil modifiers into the root zone, where it counts, with minimal disturbance to the lawn.

3. Take care not to damage the tree roots. Avoid spots where the roots have surfaced.

4. Broadcast lime at a rate of 50-100 lbs per 1000 square feet.

5. Topdress the area with Turface Soil Modifier and rake to backfill the holes. Turface creates a balance between air and water in the soil, making it easier for the grass to thrive.

6. Broadcast a good starter fertilizer.

7. Spread ProTime Super Shade Supplement over the heavily shaded areas at a rate of 1 lb per 1000 square feet.

8. Follow by broadcasting ProTime Shade Mix at a rate of 5 lbs per 1000 square feet over the entire shaded area.

9. Rake the seed gently and evenly, then cover with a thin layer of grass straw mulch, never over 1/8" to 1/4’ thick. Water the entire area lightly.

10. Keep moist until the grass is established.

The varieties of seed used in ProTime Shade Mix and Super Shade Supplement are the most shade tolerant grasses available. In some situations, overseeding may be required every spring to keep a thick lawn.