Grass will grow with at least four hours of partial sun a day.
More in Outdoors
Ron Boylan of the Scotts Company gives tips on growing a lawn in shady spots.
All grasses prefer sun, although some tolerate shade better than others. To help encourage grass to grow better in shade, thin out large shrubs and trees to permit more sunlight to reach the grass.
It's difficult to establish a healthy lawn in soil compacted from too much traffic or years of mowing. To loosen the soil, rototill the lawn, incorporate organic matter to improve the nutrient value and texture of the soil, and reseed.
With at least four hours of sun per day -- even if it's dappled sun -- you can grow grass in a shady spot. Rye, fescue and bluegrass are shade-tolerant cool-season grasses. Plant the seed in well-prepared soil, using a drop spreader so that the seed is applied evenly over the surface of the soil.
Fertilizer is another important consideration for establishing a new lawn in the shade. New lawns require "starter" fertilizer with greater percentages of phosphorus to help establish strong roots.
Once the seed and fertilizer have been applied to the soil, gently rake over the soil with a broom or the back of a spring rake to cover the seeds with a light layer of soil. The seed must be in the top 1/4" of the soil for proper germination.
After planting seed, water lightly -- just enough to change the color of the soil -- and frequently. You may need to water as often as five times a day for the first week or until the seed germinates and roots develop. Heavy watering may wash the seed away, leaving bare spots in your lawn. Once the grass begins to grow, change the watering schedule to twice a day, then cut back until you're applying only 1" of water per week. An empty can placed in the sprinkler spray will measure how much water you're applying.
It's natural for dormant weed seeds to sprout along with your new grass. After you've mowed the lawn four times, you may apply a selective herbicide to eliminate them.
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