It's a fact that growing grass in shady areas can be difficult. The light in shady areas is not only low, but of poor quality for use in photosynthesis, according to Brad S. Freesenburg, a horticulturist with the University of Missouri. For this reason, the best way to grow grass in shady areas is to choose grasses that have been cultivated specifically for low and poor light conditions.
Fine Fescues (Festuca sp.)
Fine fescues include "Creeping Red," "Hard" and "Chewings" fescue. These grasses are excellent for shady areas, especially in dry soil. Fine fescues are slow growers, so it will take some time for them to fill in spaces. They also do not tolerate foot traffic very well. Still, fine fescue grasses are a terrific choice if you have dry, shady areas that get less than four hours of sun per day.
Rough and Supina Bluegrass (Poe sp.)
Two bluegrasses do very well in shady areas, as long as the soil is moist. "Supina" is slightly hardier than "Rough," but both are good choices for a fast-growing grass that will quickly fill in bare, shady locations of your landscape. In addition, they will stand up to foot traffic fairly well. Both bluegrasses should be cut to a height of no less than 2 1/2 inches. Kentucky bluegrass, which is a popular choice for lawns in the southern part of the United States, does not do well in shady areas and should be planted in full sun only.
Perennial Ryegrass (Loliem perenne)
Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly after planting and is a fair grower in shady areas. Ryegrass does best in a seed mixture. A good companion seed for this grass is one of the shade-tolerant bluegrasses.
St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum)
St. Augustinegrass is the best shade-tolerant grass for warm-season areas, according to Debbie Shaughnessy, a horticulturist with Clemson University. Shaughnessy recommends the "Raleigh," "Delmar," "Jade" or "Palmetto" cultivars. This grass is slow-growing, but it tolerates salt and is highly weed-resistant once established.