Growing that gorgeous, even green turf can be a challenge anywhere, but if you have a shady lawn like I do, it's an uphill battle. That said, I have learned over the years not only how to get a better lawn but also how to accept the limitations and embrace shady lawn alternatives to grass.
Making the Most of Shady Lawn Space
So what's my secret to finding success in a shady lawn? Here are the top three shady lawn solutions that I learned along the way:
- Choose the Right Grass - The first time I tried to grow grass in some of the bare patches of my lawn, I skimped on seed. It showed. A few took root and sprouted, but the overall effect was half-hearted. The next year I spent more money. I chose a grass seed designed for a lawn in shady areas. The best type I found was a blend of shade-tolerant varieties with a germination rate over 70 percent.
- Take Time to Prep - Another mistake I have made with growing grass in the past is skimping on prepping for seed. Seeding grass is fast and easy. You literally just scatter it across the soil, but if you do nothing to prepare the area first, not much will happen. You can test the soil and amend for pH and nutrients, but I skipped this part and got good results. The most important thing I found is to break up the surface soil. I used a trowel and rake, but if I had larger spaces to seed, I would definitely want a tiller. This part can be time-consuming.
- Embrace the Non-Lawn - I love a perfect piece of lawn, but I have also learned that achieving it can sometimes be a losing battle. For some areas of my lawn, I have embraced alternatives and learned to love them. I have a deep shade corner that I filled with majestic, tall ostrich ferns. An area under my walnut tree is now covered in lily of the valley.
It took some time to accept, but I love my shady lawn now. I've been able to grow a mix of grass and ground cover, so I no longer have dirt patches. I love the big old maples and walnut trees in my yard and the shade they provide. Learning to live with that shade has helped me build a gorgeous lawn, even if it isn't what many consider "perfect turf."
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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