If you have a lawn that is always in the shade you are going to have quite a challenge on your hands to get it looking thick, lush and healthy. Turf grasses need a minimum amount of direct sunlight to grow. Even shade tolerant varieties will need at least four hours of sunlight each day so they can grow a strong dense lawn.

As a professional lawn care company who visits thousands of lawns, we know the lack of sunlight reaching these shady areas of lawn reduces photosynthesis, which is the natural process in which plants produce energy for their growth. Lawn areas not receiving enough sunlight are going to have lower tolerances to the cold, lawn diseases, drought and other stressful conditions.

If you have trees on your property, you are likely to encounter areas where it is difficult to grow grass.


Trees are the most dominant organism in shady lawn areas. They will utilise nutrients and the available moisture in the soil, which will deprive grass plants of these much needed elements. As a result, you will see shady lawn areas declining over a period of years as the trees grow larger and eventually reach closer to other trees, larger shrubs and structures in the garden. The sun will not have the opportunity to peek through for enough hours in the day to provide the much needed photosynthesis your lawn grass requires. There are a few things that can be done to improve the conditions your shady lawn has to contend with and help develop it into a strong healthy green lawn.

Tree pruning1. Prune trees around your lawn

Most trees will just need to have any broken or dead wood removed from them to allow more sunlight through, but there will be times when a further pruning is required. Pruning trees will allow even more sun to reach your lawn areas in the morning and evening hours and it is the easiest fix if you have too much shade. Make sure that an even balanced pruning is carried out on your trees otherwise it may develop problems and become unhealthy plus it will result in it being lopsided. An annual pruning will be required.

2. Apply the right lawn treatments at the right time

A high potassium (K) Autumn lawn feed is particularly beneficial to grass growing in shade. You can also feed shady lawns in early Spring time approximately one month before trees begin to develop leaves. Grasses growing in shady areas will only require approximately 50%-60% as much nitrogen as grasses growing in full sun. This reduction of nitrogen will also reduce the chance of developing some turf diseases. It is a good idea to take a soil test in the shaded areas and if necessary amend the soil as needed to correct the soil pH, potassium, and phosphorus levels. It is not a good idea to apply any weed control treatments in shaded areas as it can cause stress on the grass plants. Usually a spot-spray broadleaf weed control may be needed.

A great lawn care company will be able to visit your lawn and take a soil test, testing the condition of your soil and provide quality lawn care programmes for your shady lawn areas.


3. Be careful not to mow your shaded grass too short

Your mower’s grass blades should be about 1/2in – 1 in higher than for sunny areas, this will enable the grass to have more leaf tissue to photosynthesise and you will want to mow less frequently than sunny areas. Cut your shady lawn no lower than 2 ½ inches and always remove the clippings.

4. Over Seed regularly

Shady lawns will thin out and be patchy. Don’t wait until these areas are completely bare or too thinned out before you over seed. This should be an annual treatment for your shady lawn. A combination of an Aeration, Over seeding, with a shade tolerant seed and Top dressing, will help to fill and improve these shady spots and keep your lawn looking much thicker and healthier. These treatments should not be carried out too late in the year as the leaves fall they will smother new grass plants and make raking very difficult as you will not want to remove the new grass seedlings.

If you are unsure when to carry out these treatments just call your local lawn care professional and they can advise you on these and other lawn treatments that will be beneficial for your lawn.


5. Don’t allow your lawn to get stressed

Regularly walking over shady lawns can cause stress. The soil will compact and any heavy wear and tear will cause damage to shady lawn grass and cause further problems. In drought conditions, surrounding trees will be taking as much of the moisture in the soil as they can and you may need to provide extra watering a week to help these stressed areas. It is best to water early morning to reduce any risk of lawn diseases. Read more about lawn diseases and advice on watering your lawn here.

If you are still concerned that your lawn is developing problems because of the amount of shade covering it, you may have to consider removing the trees affecting it. However, this can be a drastic decision and one you should take time to think about.

If you need help improving your shady lawn areas, don’t hesitate to contact us. We love lawn care and we can visit you and your lawn at a time that suits you and provide a FREE no obligation Survey of your lawn and discuss any lawn care issues it has.