With LA’s climate, hot weather and less infrequent rain is common, which can often lead to dry lawns. It’s tempting to add a shade tree to reduce watering needs and provide a nice place to sit under outside, but when you add shade the needs of your lawn changes. Reduced sunlight can have a range of effects on your grass and will necessitate a change in maintenance routines. You should keep in mind the following factors when it comes to lawn shade.
Effects of Lawn Shade on Grass
Shading from buildings, trees, or even fallen debris such as leaves and other plant matter can be a source of shade for a lawn. The primary negative of a shaded lawn is that it gets less sunlight, resulting in less food produced by photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants turn light into energy for growth and health. On the other hand, too much sunlight can kill your grass because of the extreme heat, so in hotter climates shade can prevent heat damage.
In cooler climates, less sun means a wetter ground. Wet dirt is good for the grass, but it can also be a friendlier place for invasive species. Moss, fungi, and some lawn destroying insects and worms thrive in cool, damp dirt, leaving your lawn vulnerable to destruction.
If the shade in your lawn is originating from a tree or large shrubbery, then your grass may also be out-competed for water as these larger plants have higher hydration requirements. Very large roots can even physically damage the ground and roots of grass. Trees with thick canopies may also prevent rainfall from reaching the grass beneath.
While the combined effect of these negatives may seem detrimental to a lawn, the good news is that there are ways to compensate, allowing for a nice shady lawn that you can enjoy in the hotter months.
Reduce Lawn Shade Coverage
A simple solution to a lack of sunlight is to prune the offending trees and shrubs during the months with less sunlight. Thinner tree canopies can allow for more sunlight and rain to fall through, giving your grass the exposure to the elements that it needs. Plus, if you time the trimming right, by the time summer rolls around your lawn will have some added protection from the intense heat and be less likely to dry out.
Aerating your shady lawn can also help it thrive despite the effects of shade. The process of aeration is when small holes are poked into the lawn, allowing for root exposure. By exposing the roots, they are more receptive to receiving fertilizer and the air it needs to thrive.
To compensate for the reduced nutrients caused by lack of sunlight, fertilizer can help your grass grow in the shade. After aerating, adding organic matter to your lawn will give it the nutrients it needs.
Since water evaporates much slower in the shade, it’s important that you don’t overwater your grass. If the ground is still damp, chances are you can wait longer to water. Overwatering can kill the grass both by drowning, destabilizing the soil, and making it a better place for unwelcome organisms to find a home. Water less frequently, but deeply to ensure that the grass is being properly hydrated but not overwatered. If your shade is coming from other large plants make sure that they aren’t out-competing your grass for the water it needs and adjust accordingly.
Mowing at the Right Height
When mowing a lawn, a lot of people just run through on one height, but this can be deadly for shaded grass. Grass in shaded areas should be left slightly longer than the sun-exposed parts of the lawn. This allows for a longer leaf which is better at capturing sunlight, water, and air. Most mowers allow for height adjustments of the blade; just make sure to be safe when making these adjustments.
Weeds are a gardener’s worst enemy. They seem to constantly show back up and are unsightly. For shaded lawns, some weeds thrive in the less sunny space. Make sure to weed regularly as the invading plants can cause damage to your lawn, further straining your shaded grass.
Use an Expert
Lawns can be tricky because of the amount of variables in just a single yard. Using an expert lawncare company can be the best thing that you do for your yard. Lawnscape is an expert in lawncare, and will know exactly how to compensate for shaded or sun-exposed lawns. Contact Lawnscape today to keep your lawn looking its best!