How to Grow Grass in the Woods


Grass requires some necessary elements for optimum growth and color. Although hundreds of varieties of grass exist, all types require adequate amounts of water, light and nutrients. Many varieties of grass require full sunlight and often suffer and die in shady areas. A few types flourish in areas that receive modest amounts of sunlight. Growing healthy lawns in wooded areas requires careful grass selection. Growing grass in shady areas also involves proper site preparation and planting techniques.

Step 1

Prune out some of the branches from overhead trees to allow additional sunlight. Take out low and overgrown branches with a saw or limb cutter. Dispose of the dead limbs. Remove a few of the less attractive trees from your wooded area, if possible. Pull out small shrubs and weeds growing in and around the planting site.

Step 2

Loosen the existing soil and the entire planting site with a tiller, avoiding areas of exposed tree roots. Rake around roots that are high enough to catch the tiller blades. Break up all the soil, tossing out all uprooted vegetation as you proceed.

Step 3

Test the pH levels in the soil, which, for most grasses to thrive should be 6.5 to 7.0. Add recommended additives to correct the soil, if necessary, following the instructions on the soil test kit.

Step 4

Level the entire planting site with a rake to create a smooth surface for planting.

Step 5

Plant shade-tolerant grass seed such as hard fescue, chewing fescue and creeping red fescue, or bluegrass varieties Bensun, Nugget, Touchdown and Eclipse. Spread at the rate indicated on the package.

Step 6

Keep the soil surface slightly moist for the first few weeks. Check this by inserting a fingertip into the soil near the roots of the grass. Provide 2 to 3 inches of water every two to three days to maintain this moisture.

Step 7

Rake fallen leaves in the fall to avoid smothering the grass. Avoid deep raking when removing fallen leaves because many types of shade-tolerant grass grow short root systems.

Tips and Warnings

  • Compacted soil under trees causes difficulty for the tender roots of new grass. Avoid over-watering grass in shady locations. Excess moisture encourages diseases and pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw or limb cutter
  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Soil test kit
  • Soil additives
  • Grass seed


  • Iowa State University: Growing Grass in Shady Areas
  • University of Rhode Island: Growing Turf Under Shaded Conditions
  • University of Minnesota: Growing a Lawn in Shady Places

Who Can Help

  • West Virginia University: Liming the Lawn
Keywords: grass in woods, planting grass, shady lawn

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.