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Best grass to grow in the shade?

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  • Best grass to grow in the shade?

    This is a question for all those veteran lawn professionals. I have a regular customer that is really becoming frustrated with her lawn. She has a large tree in her front lawn and cannot for the life of herself get any grass seed to take in the area around that tree. I have been told to have her use various grass seeds, watering them at least 3-5 times per day, etc... She and her husband work full time and cannot be there to water the lawn repeatedly throughout the day, so that is one factor but I would like to recommend a grass that does very well growing in the shade from this enormous tree and possible even a fertilizer that she could use along with it. Because I am a newer company I am not as familiar with the various grass seeds and fertilizer that different veteran lawn professionals have run across in their years of tending to difficult lawns but would appreciate any feedback that I could give to this client to help her get a nice lush lawn started without paying a fortune.

  • #2
    Hi Clean:

    Give us all a bit more info. on the type of tree. *If it's deciduous, are the leaves raked during the autumn? *This can have a great bearing on the type of grass that will take root. *Leaves alter the pH of the soil around many trees. *If you think pH is a factor, your local ag-Ex office can probably do a soil test for you...often for free when you take the sample in (don't hold me to this *) *

    I have had success with Creeping Red fescue (with a mix of ryegrass) in areas like what I think you are referring to. *Creeping Red does not need constant watering. *In fact, I think you are being ill-advised from people telling you to water several times per day. *I personally think this could lead to root-rot and damage to the tree.

    Also, what zone are you in. *CRF is good for my zone but it might not work for you.

    Just an opinion...let's hear from others.


    Start a profitable lawn care business.


    • #3
      Hey Clean:

      As I was walking away from my desk after the last message, I almost took a "fall" getting back here to "leave" another comment.

      This customer might make for a perfect oportunity for you to try out a "be a problem solver" experiment.

      Instead of selling a fert & seed job, design her a cool landscape project to go around that tree. Work in landscape fabric, mulch, strategically placed flower areas, a bird bath, a bird feeder, and a neat bench where she can sit in the shade on sunny days. Turn that ugly "can't do nuthin' with" patch into an area of beauty.

      If you decide to do this, please let me know how it turns out.

      Start a profitable lawn care business.


      • #4
        If you are having a hard time growing just under this tree, there could be another factor. many types of trees contain a natural herbicide in their leaves. One tree in particular is the Ailanthus altissima, or the Tree-of-Heaven. This is a very wide spread tree and will be almost impossible to grow grass (or anything else) under. In fact, its herbicidal properties are so strong that scientists are working on creating an all natural herbicide from it. There are many more trees like this. Find out what type of tree it is and do a little research.
        Northern California


        • #5
          Thanks Keith and Little's those were great posts. I really appreciate it more then my words can say. The landscape project is a great one and I am going to suggest it to my client. I know she has caught a lot of heat in the past from her neighbors (which is something she told me when she signed a contract only 2 months ago) but its an eyesore. She never asked me to do anything regarding the lawn but I was ready to suggest grass seed & fertilizer or perhaps SOD or even something else. If she and her husband like the idea perhaps even with more research on the tree which was greatly suggested by both gentlemen I can solve her problems with everything. Allowing possibly a great new landscaped project and important knowledge on her tree to increase the lush look of the rest of her lawn in the near future!
          Thanks again guys your awesome!


          • #6
            We had a spot in a lawn, several miles off campus Im in charge of maintaining for UNR. NOTHING WOULD GROW. The guys on grounds that have done this for 30+ years couldn't get it to grow. So a nice patio and table went in. Just be lucky you don't have grass that right now, on a weekly basis as 20,000+ people walking all over it. Sigh, if I can only convince the supervisor to thatch and overseed life will be good. Until next grow season I have to deal with it.
            I 2nd the idea of suggesting some type of new landscape.
            Could you tell us how large of an area this is?
            What part of the US do you live in?
            Any adverse soil conditions such as an inbalance of pH or high amount of clay?


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