Grass, like all plants, gets its energy from the sun. Sunlight is absorbed by the grass blades, and the grass then creates energy through the process of photosynthesis. Most grass species require direct sunlight to create sufficient energy to sustain themselves. However, a few grass species have a unique tolerance for shady lawn environments.
Tall Fescue Grass
Tall fescue is a cool-season grass with a high tolerance for shady, highly trafficked lawn areas. Found throughout the northern United States, tall fescue is best maintained with regular fertilization and mowing to a height of 2 to 3 inches.
Fine Fescue Grass
Fine fescue is a cool-season grass with the unique ability to thrive in dry, shady environments. Lacking tolerance for heavy foot traffic, fine fescue should not be used in high-traffic lawn areas and grows best in the cooler weather of spring and fall.
Perennial Rye Grass
Perennial rye is a shade-tolerant, cool-season grass that prefers moist, cool climates. Preferring a closer mow height of approximately 1 to 2 inches and frequent fertilization and irrigation, perennial rye will wilt and turn brown during periods of prolonged heat.
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine is a partially shade-tolerant, warm-season grass preferring moist, tropical climates. Commonly grown in the southern United States, St. Augustine has a poor tolerance for foot traffic and cold temperatures. Although tolerant of partially shady conditions, St. Augustine grass will thin out and become sparse in excessive shade.
Carpet grass is a warm-season grass that grows in shady, wet, sandy soils throughout the south. Used extensively for erosion control, carpet grass can grow in a wide variety of infertile soil conditions and requires little maintenance.