Although lawn grass usually needs full sunlight, it is possible to have a healthy, lush lawn when your landscape is in a shady area. If it receives less than 4 hours of sunlight per day, grass has a lower tolerance to weather, disease and drought. There are some key things to keep in mind when seeding a shady lawn.
Choose a grass that will thrive in a shady area. The most common are cool-season grasses, such as fine fescue. Other grasses that are more tolerant of shade include Palmetto or Raleigh. Pick one suitable to your climate and soil.
Use a till to loosen up the top 2 inches of the soil, and discard any large dirt clods or rocks. Make sure the ground surface is even and smooth.
Plant the grass seed in early fall so it can mature before frost. Keep leaves or debris off the newly seeded lawn as much as possible, so the new grass isn't smothered and it gets sunlight when there is access. The grass will grow through the cold season to mature and gain strength.
Water your grass only when it is necessary, like when the soil is completely dry. When you water it, water deeply (let the water hit it for 10 to 15 minutes). Watering that is light or often will encourage more shallow roots, so the grass will be more susceptible to disease and weeds.
Mow the grass about 1 inch higher than normal once the grass matures (usually when it is about 3 inches tall). Make sure to remove and discard the clippings. If you leave clippings on the lawn, they can deter growth due to smothering.
Fertilize the areas that are shady at the same time as you fertilize the sunny areas, but don't use as much nitrogen. This is because shaded grasses only need about half the nitrogen as grasses in full sun. Use a fertilizer that is ideal for your grass variety, region and climate and make sure to follow the directions carefully.
Prune back any branches that grow out over your lawn, if possible. Cutting back branches that are less than 6 feet up from the ground will help increase air circulation and light.