Quite often I am asked “What’s wrong with my lawn?”
As we proceed to a shady, tree-filled area of the yard I hear “It looked good for several years and then has started looking worse and worse.”
The images here show an old lawn area that has become increasingly shaded as the surrounding trees have matured. In addition to the shade factor, the surface roots of the trees have also created challenges for the lawn. Also, there are no visible drain inlets in this lawn, so any water that drifts into this area sits on the lawn and is continually wet without ever really drying out.
In this case, I was not surprised that the lawn was failing in these conditions. Regardless of how much ‘shade’ seed was put down or fertilizing was done, the result and the key lesson here are the same:
Grass does not grow in shade.
How To Correct The Problem
My best advice for areas with nearby trees is to expect the lighting to change as the years pass and prepare to renovate by removing some ‘lawn’ areas. When the time comes, consider adjusting the irrigation, and adding shade tolerant groundcover or plants to fill the shady void where lawn once thrived.
Don’t be fooled by bags marked ‘shade ’seed or sod. These still require a certain amount of sun to perform well.
On this project, the renovation included adding a serpentine flagstone stepping stone path through a dry creek bed. Also, the addition of various sized stones around the exposed tree roots, along with some shade-loving groundcover and perennials.
The spray heads on the lawn that previously occupied this area were capped off. Now it is a much more aesthetically pleasing area with the appropriate planting accents, as well as a visually-pleasing and functional area.
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