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Too much shade for lawn grass

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When it comes to a lawn grass being shade tolerant, tolerant is the keyword. It does not mean that the grass prefers shade. It simply means that the grass has some degree of tolerance to shade.

The best lawn grass choice for shade is St. Augustine. But not all St. Augustine cultivars are equal in shade tolerance.

When it comes to a lawn grass being shade tolerant, tolerant is the keyword. It does not mean that the grass prefers shade. It simply means that the grass has some degree of tolerance to shade.

Even the most shade tolerant cultivars of St. Augustinegrass have their limits. The limit is 5 hours of sun per day. If an area receives less than 5 hours of sun per day during the longer days of summer, even St. Augustinegrass will begin to thin and decline with time. Refer to Table 1 at the end of the below St. Augustinegrass publication for St. Augustine cultivars listed as having “good” shade tolerance.

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Click link for a University of Florida video on turfgrass shade tips. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe-n6Glieug

In general, zoysiagrass has good shade tolerance but like St. Augustinegrass, it varies depending on the cultivar. Several of the better zoysiagrass choices for a home lawn are Empire, Jamur, El Toro and Palisades. All of these are mentioned in the below zoysiagrass publication except Palisades. Palisades was removed from the publication because it is very difficult to find. Empire is probably the best available cultivar.

St. Augustinegrass can only be established vegetatively, that is from sod or plugs. SeedS are not an option with planting St. Augustinegrass. And, even though you can plant zoysiagrass from seed, the seeded types are inferior to the above-listed cultivars.

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Be careful with lawn seed mixes that state that they are for shady areas. These will be mixtures of cool season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. These grasses will not survive the first summer this far south. Some of the mixtures sometimes will include common bermudagrass seed. Bermudagrass has the least shade tolerance as compared to any of the other lawn grass choices for our area. Plus, common bermudagrass is not a good choice for a lawn.

Below are a number of links, including info on options (other than lawn grass) in dealing with areas that are too shady and/or where there is too much competition from trees.

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http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/groundcovers.html – Groundcovers – Some of these are good choices for shady areas.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP45700.pdf – Landscaping in Florida Shade

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP07200.pdf – Growing Turfgrass in the Shade

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH01000.pdf – St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_mulch – Landscape Mulches

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH01100.pdf – Zoysiagrass for Florida Lawns

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com.

 

 

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