Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

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What lawn grasses will grow in the shade?

Most lawn grasses prefer 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Attempting to grow a thick stand of grass in dense shade, especially under a large shade tree, is difficult at best.

Cool-season grass mixes of turf-type tall fescues and a compatible shade tolerate bluegrass will perform well in moderately shaded turfgrass areas.

Zoysia, the warm-season grass of choice for the Saint Louis area, will only tolerate moderately shaded areas. It is virtually impossible to grow a warm-season grass in a heavily shaded area.

When attempting to grow a cool-season grass in a heavily shaded area such as under a tree, select a mix labeled as a “shady lawn mix”.

These types of mixtures will have a high percentage of the more shade tolerant fine leaf fescues such as red fescue and chewing fescue, perhaps 60 to 70%.

Pruning large tress to let in more sunlight and raise the lawnmower cutting height to 3 or 4 inches will enhance the growth of cool-season grasses in heavily shaded areas. Cool-season grasses in these areas may need to be over seeded on a regular basis in order to obtain a thicker stand of turfgrass.

Alternatives to attempting grass in these areas include planting shade loving groundcover plants and/or mulching the problem area. For shade-loving groundcovers see "Ground Cover Plants for Missouri Gardens."