Question: Shade grass seed in sun?

By | 28/02/2022
Shade tolerant grass seed emerging from the soil

I received this interesting question in February 2022 about using shade grass seed in sun and regenerating a lawn in the spring. A reader called Mark asks about which grass seed mix to use for shady and sunny areas.

He writes:

Hi Kris,

I have a question about lawn seed. In April, weather permitting, I plan to scarify my lawn for the first time.

The lawn is about 20 years old, approx. 200 sqm. I am in Cornwall and the lawn is somewhat neglected. It is an amenity lawn not a showcase and does not see much use.

About 50% of the lawn is in light / moderate shade and has significant moss coverage. There’s some thatch but it’s not severe.

After scarifying I plan to seed it and intend to use a mix designed for shade. My question is whether I could use the same mix for all the lawn or should I get a separate non-shade mix for the non-shady areas?

The mix I plan to use is:
– 20% Dwarf Perennial Ryegrass
– 25% Strong Creeping Red Fescue
– 20% Slender Creeping Red Fescue
– 5% Rough Stalked Meadow Grass
– 10% Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass
– 15% Hard Fescue
– 5% Highland Browntop Bent

Thank you for your advice.

Mark, via Ask a Question

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your question. It does sound like the lawn could do with a spring clean.

Yes, I would very much recommend using your suggested shade seed for the whole lawn. Shade “tolerant” grass will do very well in full sun and you have selected a reliable mix of grasses to give a decent lawn overall. It is good practice to use a mix of ryegrasses and meadow grasses (broad leaf “structural” grasses) and Fescue’s (“filler” grasses). This will produce a decent, hard wearing lawn.

Shade grass seed in sun?

Shade “tolerant” grass is grass that cope with a bit of shade. It will still need 4 or so hours of direct sunlight to do well, and still not be happy if shaded overhead. It will grow much better in full sun. Like all grass.

We have had such a warm winter (2021-2022) in the South West (especially in Cornwall) that I can see no problem in bringing the work forward into March if you are able. The grass would be keen to get away as soon as it can and the soil is even warm enough now. The benefit with seeding as early as you can is that you will hopefully get your young lawn as established as possible before any hot days appear, which we can get in May and June. The more established the lawn is then, the more resilient it is to drought, although it will still need watering.

If you have a heavy covering of moss, certainly put down a moss treatment at least a week beforehand to make bringing it out with the scarifier much easier. Give the lawn a feed too and it will do well.

Good luck.

Regards
Kris Lord

Featured image of shade tolerant grass seen in the sun is from my own archives and not posted by the questioner.

A lawn sown from a shade tolerant grass seed.
A lawn in mixed shade a sun. This was sown new from a shade-tolerant grass seed and produced a wonderful lawn.

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