The best grass for shade in Florida is St Augustine. It is hardy so it can survive in the hot sun along with periods of drought. It is easy to maintain because it can choke out weeds.
Finding the best type of grass in Florida is made even more difficult when you need to deal with an area of your lawn that is shaded. You cannot grow grass in areas that never have sunlight. The landscape design company Ground Source states that you need 4 hours of sunlight even for grass that is classified to grow in the shade.
Before deciding on the best grass seed for your lawn that is partially shaded, you need to be aware of the average weather conditions. Florida is the warmest state having an average temperature of 70.7 Fahrenheit and 2800 hours of sunlight. Nevertheless, there is a rainy season that takes place between May and October.
Also, Florida has a dry season that can be severe from November to April.
Choosing the right type of grass that deals with shade, periods of rain, and dry spells is difficult.
Here are the attributes to be concerned about when selecting the right type of grass for Florida that has areas that are partially shaded:
1.Grass that can deal with less water since in the shade, grass will not grow as fast so too much water will not be beneficial.
In Florida, you need grass that can deal with the hot temperatures in the sunlight, and at the same time, do well in the shade. If you water grass too much while it is shaded, water will not be absorbed because the grass will use less water. St Augustine Grass will be able to grow with less water in shaded area become is genetically able to prosper in areas that are not fully in the sunlight.
2.Grass that is hardy to deal with the elevated temperature of the exposed to sun sections and the lack of radiation from the sun in the partially shaded areas.
St Augustine Grass is perfect for the hot temperatures that occur in Florida since it has been proven to grow well in many tropical locations. For instance, St Augustine Grass is found in Mexico and even in some parts of Africa.
3.The Grass must have a good root system since shaded areas means more competition for nutrients due to tree roots that absorb lots of the soil nutrients.
I recommend that you use St Augustine Grass seed since it can develop a strong root system. However, make sure that you do not overwater your St Augustine Grass once it has matured. Adding too much water will let the grass survive on short roots. If the roots are short, they will not be able to compete with the tough shrub or tree roots present in shady areas.
Something that is great about St Augustine Grass is that it can deal with other plants and weeds that are competing for nutrients. This grass will choke out competitors including other types of grasses. Even if you are dealing with remnants of Bermuda grass in the shaded areas where you are planting St Augustine, St Augustine will be the victor.
There are times when landscapers will initially plant a lawn of bermuda just before switching over to St Augustine because they know that the weeds and other grasses will get chocked out. The Bermuda grass will have made way for the St Augustine grass to prosper.
4.You need grass in partially shaded areas in Florida that has wide blades so that during the short sunny periods where the grass is not shaded, the grass can perform photosynthesis easily.
When the blades of grass are broad, the blades cover a larger surface area and contain more stomata. The four cell stomata in a blade of grass control the absorption of CO2 and the expulsion of water vapor. The St Augustine variety of grass has wide blades, as much 9mm across. When the shade has receded from an area of a lawn of St Augustine, the grass will exchange gases readily due the large surface area of the blades.
5.Grass that can deal with more humidity since the soil will not dry out as fast in the shaded parts of the lawn.
There are times in Florida where humidity can be a factor. Certain sections of Florida are humid throughout most of the year. For instance, the average humidity for Daytona beach reaches 90 percent in the morning.
The humid air will reduce the rate that moisture is absorbed from the soil. For the shady parts of the lawn. You need grass that is ok with high moisture level in the soil from time to time. It is still best to use St Augustine Grass in the shady parts, just ensure that you do not overwater the grass or there is a chance of root rot occurring. This could occur with most types of grass if the moisture level is constantly too high.
6.Grass that can survive with just 4 hours of sunlight. Most hardy grasses can deal with just 6 hours, but there are types that are ok with less than that amount.
With mild filtering of sunlight, St Augustine grass can flourish. It only needs 4 hours of sunlight which makes it perfect for parts of your lawn in Florida that are shaded. The best types of St Augustine for shade are Seville and Delmar. It is best to avoid Zoysia grass because it requires at least 8 hours of sunlight per day to survive.
Here is a table that represents what homeowners are using as a variety of grass for their lawns in Florida:
|Type of Grass for a Lawn in Florida||Percentage of total responses|
|Bermuda (click to order on Amazon)||29%|
How to Grow Grass in Heavy Shade?
When your new grass is trying to survive in the shade, it is competing for resources such as water and nutrients. It will be competing with other types of grass, and with trees that devour most of the surrounding nutrients.
Even St Augustine Grass that does well in shade, will have trouble dealing with surrounding trees that mature and have a massive root system. Here are some steps to take so that you grow grass in the shade:
- Make sure to reroute foot traffic. For instance, if your children are constantly playing under the trees, guide them to an area where you are seeding the ground that is shaded. Even pets should be steered in a different direction. Grass that trying to take hold, it is going to already have a hard time to spread in an area that is shaded.
- Another tip for growing grass in the shade is to set your mower to cut at the highest level possible. You need to have grass blades to be as long and as large as possible. They are needed for photosynthesis. If you keep your grass too short in the shade, the blades will be able to collect the energy from sunlight to flourish. Your lawn will then decline in strength.
- To reduce the amount of shade that is created by your trees, remove some of the branches from the bottom sections so that more sunlight will be able to reach the grass that is under the trees. You can remove some of the higher level, canopy branches so that more light will be able to go through the tree and to reach the grass.
- Do not overwater and over fertilize the earth thinking that this is going to cause more grass growth in the shape. The opposite happens, the added moisture will cause mold. Also, adding more fertilizer will make the ground more likely to carry bacteria that will infect your grass.
- Replace the dead grass areas in the shade with sod. This solution is not the best one since you would have to replace the sod every year. If you live in an area that has a winter season, the sod will die each year.
- Purchase Dense Shade Grass Seed. There are numerous types of grass seeds that claim that they can be used in the shade. It is best to buy one that states that it is for dense shade or deep shade. There is a difference between just seed that is for shade, and seed that is for more intense and longer periods of shade. I recommend Bonide for Dense Shade that is available on Walmart.com. Click here to have your grass seed delivered to your front door.
- Overseed the area that is shaded even it is healthy presently. It is best to seed over grass that is already there especially during the fall season. To ensure that the seed enters the ground where there is grass already, you need to rake the area well and top dress with some soil before adding the seed. Avoid mowing this area of the lawn until the new grass is at least one inch long.
- Keep the shaded area free of leaves. As soon as you notice that there are leaves in the shaded area of your lawn, rake them up. Moisture can get trapped underneath leaves and also the sunlight cannot reach the grass when leaves are around.
- If you have smaller patches that are brown in the shade: I recommend that you try Scotts Turf Builder for the shade. Click here to see pricing on Walmart.com.
What Grass is the easiest to grow in Florida?
The grass that is the easiest t grow in Florida is St. Augustine, also called Stenotaphrum Secundatum. It grows easily, it can deal with salty conditions, and it can survive in drought situations.
Florida is not the easiest location for picking the correct variation of grass. The temperature is either too not, too humid, and in the northern part of Florida, too cold. You need grass seed or sod that can deal with these varying conditions.
Top Pick is St Augustine Grass
This grass is easy to grow in Florida. It is hardy and it does not take a lot of work to get it to take root, plus it can mature quickly. Nevertheless, you need to maintain it because it grows so fast. It will need to be cut quite often unless you have sections that are partially shaded.
Besides periods of high heat in Florida, there are spells that drop to around 55 degrees, sometimes even close to 32 degrees in the northern part of Florida. Most varieties of St Augustine can survive the cold and can also deal with scorching heat. Here are a few choices:
- Palmetto St Augustine – It has a dark green color, and it is super strong.
- Bitter Blue – Some areas of Florida have infestations of cinch-bug that can kill the roots of grass. This type is resistant to the cinch-bug. Also, it can deal with the cold temperatures that happen. For instance, the average low in Crestview is 53 degrees and this grass type can still prosper.
- Floratam St Augustine – This variety is lower in cost which is perfect if one has an expansion lawn. It has a bluish hue to it, and it grows into a turf-like consistency.
- Selville St Augustine – This type is ok in areas that are partially shaded and fare well in intense heat. Its blades are fine but are adequate to exchange gases in spots of your lawn that do not receive sunlight all day long.
Second Choice for Florida is Zoysia Grass
If you are looking to have a lawn in Florida that looks like a golf green, you need to pick zoysia green. It has a dark green richness to it that makes it beautiful, while is grows tightly making it look like turf.
What is almost beneficial is that it is ok with lots of foot traffic. If you have children that will be playing on the lawn, or if you would like to have numerous garden parties, this grass is perfect. However, it is not maintenance free, so you will need to ensure that brown patches are dealt with right away.
Even though Zoysia requires some maintenance, this is not a big task. It becomes thick and dense and it crowds out most weeds.
If you live in the Hendry, or Glades counties, there is a possibility of frost. For instance, the following cities have experienced frost: Palmdale, Ortona and Big Cypress. What is great about Zoysia grass is that the frost will not kill it, it just stops growth for a sometime. After the temperature is back to normal, the grass will start to grow again.