How does shade negatively affect turf?
The fact of the matter is, lawns do not grow well in shade. Grass requires light and moisture to survive and those areas in your garden such as under trees, next to fence’s and north facing gardens are never the perfect environment for a lawn.
As the light levels are lower than desirable, the plant photosynthesizes less, which means it has less energy. This means it is weaker, recovers slower from wear or disease resulting in a thin sward and weak root system.
The lack of light also impacts on hormone levels in the plant which causes the thin leggy growth.
Shade also impacts on soil temperatures. In the spring when soil temperature is on the rise, shady areas take longer to warm up. This means seeds take longer to germinate and the existing grass may take longer to get going.
What are the symptoms of shade affecting turf?
- Leggy grass
- Thin grass
- Thin areas that worsen over Winter
What to do
Thinning the canopy of nearby trees allows more light through and so will drastically improve the health of the lawn. Keeping debris (leaves, twigs, nuts etc) off the lawn will aid light penetration and help prevent disease.
Reducing the wear on shady areas by reducing the number of times the mower runs over it. Avoid turning the mower on these areas especially if the mower has a roller.
It is preferable to leave the lawn a bit longer in shady areas, at around 2 inches long, so that the blades of grass are able to absorb more sunlight, resulting in a stronger root system.
There are products called plant growth regulators which affect the hormone levels in the plant. These can be applied via spray. This prevents the leggy growth and promotes a thicker greener lawn. The added affect is better rooting and stronger plant.
Water more regularly under trees where the soil is likely to dry out quicker.