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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."