Shady lawn: how to sow grass seed for shaded areas


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Specially adapted seed mixtures are essential for lawns located in shaded areas. Find out all you need to know about shady lawns and get tips on sowing and maintaining your own.

normal and shady lawn images
Since common lawn turf often needs lots of light, a special shady lawn turf is recommended for darker places

Choosing the right lawn seed for a shaded area is not as easy as you might think. Most grasses are quite reliant on sun and don’t cope well in the shade. That said, there are lawn seed mixtures available that can help you grow your dream lawn, even in shaded locations. Read on to learn when it makes sense to grow a shady lawn, how to sow shady grass lawn seed, and what to consider when buying grass seed for shaded areas.

Shady lawns: when does a shady lawn make sense?

Shady grass lawns are suitable for all lawns that are in shady or semi-shady areas. If your garden is in a rather shady location, for example in a courtyard or surrounded by trees, then shady grass seeds are the best choice for you. A specially formulated shady lawn seed mix contains grasses that tolerate darker conditions and results in a lawn that is just as weed resistant and easy to maintain as lawns that get plenty of sunlight. To save yourself the future hassle of unsightly, unkempt and high maintenance lawns, it is important to choose the right lawn seed mix for your garden.

Why are “normal” lawn seed mixtures unfit for shady lawns?

Most grasses need lots of sunlight and do not cope well in darker areas, like courtyards or shady, elevated landscapes. These dimly lit areas are often cool and damp for too long for average lawn grasses. Therefore, using a standard lawn seed mix does not tend to produce the desired results. These grasses will not take very well and may result in patchy lawns, allowing weeds or shade-loving mosses to take over.

Can a shady lawn also be sown in the sun?

Yes! Whilst normal lawn seed mixtures are not suitable for very shady gardens, high-quality shady lawn seed mixtures, such as our Plantura Shady Lawn Seed, are suitable for semi-shady and even fully sunny locations. So, if your lawn is shaded in the morning, but bathed in sun hours later, it is perfectly fine to sow shady grass seeds. Just bear in mind that shady grass in sunny locations will require slightly more water and fertiliser, as these grass species are specially adapted to cool, dark areas.

Plantura Shady Lawn Seed
Plantura Shady Lawn Seed

Premium lawn seed: shade-resistant & fast-germinating, perfect for shady gardens, resistant against weeds & moss

Note: when sowing your lawn, only use one lawn seed mix, otherwise you may notice differences in colour, growth or density.

half sunny half shady lawn
Shady lawns also do well in full sun without any problems [Photo: kaninw/]

Seeding and maintaining a shady lawn

Generally speaking, seeding a shady lawn is no different from seeding a lawn in sunny areas. Keep reading to find out what to bear in mind when doing so.

When and how to sow shady grass seed

The best time to seed shady grass lawns is between April and October. Before you sow the seeds, make sure the soil temperature must be above 12° C, even at night. Seeding a lawn when it is too cold drastically minimises your chances of success. Seeding lawns is not necessarily straightforward, so here are some step-by-step instructions for you to follow.

Sowing shady grass seeds:

  • Prepare the soil by removing weeds and stones.
  • Fertilise the area with an organic slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Lawn Feed. This provides the young grasses with all the nutrients they need to grow into a healthy and lush lawn.
  • Spread the seed in a crisscross pattern, preferably with a seed spreader. For our Plantura Shady Lawn Seed, first sow from left to right with approx. 12.5 g/m2 and then from top to bottom with the same amount. You can also spread the seeds by hand, but using a spreader leads to a more even result.
  • Cover the seeds with a thin 0.5cm layer of soil. Our Plantura Organic Lawn Compost is suitable for this, but you can also simply work the seeds very gently into the existing soil.
  • Press the seeds down by standing on them or using a tool, e.g. a roller.
  • Water thoroughly! Do not under any circumstances allow the lawn seeds to dry out. Water immediately after sowing and then every day for the first month.
sprinkler watering a lawn
Whether by hand or with a sprinkler – even in the shade, take care to ensure a good water supply [Photo: Repina Valeriya/]

Tip: it is not the best idea to start a new lawn at the height of summer. But if you do, be sure to water sufficiently so that the seeds can germinate and do not dry out.

How to properly care for grass in shaded areas

The maintenance of lawns in the shade is only different in that the main aspects of lawn care —watering, fertilising, and mowing — are needed less frequently. As shady lawns lack the necessary solar energy to photosynthesise efficiently, their water and nutrient requirements are slightly lower than full sun lawns, for instance. Our Plantura Lawn Feed is ideal for fertilising all kinds of lawns, including those in the shade. Despite the fact that the shade tolerant grasses do not need lots of nutrients, the high organic content of our fertiliser means that there is no nutrient loss due to leaching. Instead, the nutrients are locked in by the soil organisms, ready to be released again later as and when needed.

Shady lawn care in a nutshell

  • Opt for lawn seed mixtures specially adapted for shady locations, such as our Plantura Shady Lawn Seed.
  • Shady lawns have lower water and fertiliser requirements.
  • Using lawn fertilisers with a high percentage of organic material promotes a healthy soil life and a need-based release of nutrients — both of which support a dense, healthy lawn free of weeds.
  • A potassium-enriched lawn feed, such as our Plantura Autumn Lawn Feed, helps shady lawns to survive the frosty temperatures through the winter.
  • You may need to scarify, aerate or sand a shady lawn to deter weeds and moss.
Autumn Lawn Feed 10.5kg, 200m2 coverage
Autumn Lawn Feed 10.5kg, 200m2 coverage
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  • Perfect for fertilising lawns from July to October
  • Promotes a winter-hardy lawn & fast regeneration in spring
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Weeds and moss in shady lawns

The spread of invasive lawn moss and shade-loving lawn weeds can present a problem for grass that grows in the shade. As always, prevention is better than cure, so using a proper shady lawn seed mix is the best way to tackle this problem. That being said, the fact of the matter is that moss thrives in the shade. To stop moss from taking over, fertilise your lawn regularly to revitalise and maintain soil health, ideally using an organic lawn fertiliser, or lime your lawn. Likewise, scarifying, aerating and sanding lawns can help a lot, too.

lawnmower rests on lawn
Shady lawn grass is slow growing, and doesn’t need to be mowed as often [Photo: Peter Galleghan/]

Spring and autumn are particularly critical phases for shady lawns because, compared to sun-soaked lawns, grasses grown in shade have a shorter growth period. This promotes the spread of adaptable wild plants, especially at the cusp of winter.

Reseeding shady lawns

Sometimes a lawn can become patchy or less dense if, for instance, it has been neglected or voles have been wreaking havoc. Overseed your lawn with a fast-germinating lawn seed mix, such as our Plantura Lawn Overseeding Mix, protects shady grass lawns by filling in the bare patches quickly and preventing weeds from taking over. The perfect time for reseeding is after scarifying the lawn as this breaks the soil surface and allows seeds to sprout efficiently. Scarifying lawns also stimulates the already-existing lawn grasses to branch out further, resulting in a denser lawn. If you have holes in your lawn, for instance due to long-standing planters, or boisterous children or dogs, we recommend our Plantura Lawn Repair Mix which we have developed especially for these large gaps.

What to look for when buying shady lawn grass seeds

The best grass seed mixtures for shaded areas contain a high proportion of seeds from particularly shade-tolerant grass varieties. Our premium quality Plantura Shady Lawn Seed contains the following species, among others:

  • Lolium perenne: extremely fast-germinating variety with good regeneration capacity
  • Festuca rubra: ensures a lush green and vital turf
  • Poa pratensis: hardy due to strong runners and grows very densely
Plantura Shady Lawn Seed
Plantura Shady Lawn Seed

Premium lawn seed: shade-resistant & fast-germinating, perfect for shady gardens, resistant against weeds & moss

It is also important to consider the seeds’ germination rate and capacity. High-quality lawn seed germinates rapidly. This is down to the fact that the seed-producing mother plants have been well-kept, and because the seed is not stored for a long time. When choosing lawn seed, make sure the manufacturer has provided all the important information on sowing and caring for your lawn.

Three piles of lawn seeds
Our Plantura Shady Lawn Seed contains grass seed that is well-suited to shaded areas

Our Plantura Shady Lawn Seed mix is geared toward these requirements, because our company philosophy honours sustainability, quality, and the best possible exchange with our product users. This lawn seed mix contains Lolium perenne, Poa trivialis, Poa pratensis and Festuca rubra, making it ideal for deep shade and partial shade — but it also grows strong and dense in the sun.

Summary — what to look for when buying shady lawn grass seeds:

  • Specification of the varieties included (shade-tolerant varieties, small proportion of other grasses).
  • High germination capacity
  • Precise instructions and further information
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