For your lawn to live its best, thriving life, it’s important to choose the grass that best suits your yard. If your yard is very open and gets loads of sun, then you might need hardy, drought-tolerant turf. But if your yard tends to the shady side, whether from overhanging trees, next-door’s towering renovation, walls or even play equipment – you’ll need to find those shade-tolerant grasses. Those that will grow steadily but strongly in areas with limited sunlight.
So what is the best lawn for shade in our local climate? And what is the best way to care for it?
What is the best lawn for shade?
For our local south-east Queensland climate, grass varieties with high-shade tolerance are your ‘warm season grasses’. These include Buffalo and Zoysia grass varieties.
Let’s talk through our favourites, and a few things to be mindful of with shade-tolerant grasses.
Buffalo is a warm season grass with very high shade tolerance. In fact, it thrives better in partial shade than in full sun. At Rock’n’Soil we have two favourite types of Buffalo.
Sir Walter Certified DNA is a fantastic choice when choosing a low-maintenance lawn. It’s long been Australia’s favourite lawn, with its high shade and drought tolerance. Being DNA-certified, Sir Walter is guaranteed free from weeds, pests and foreign grasses.
Around two to three hours of direct sun each day is ideal for Sir Walter. Applying a premium seasonal fertiliser will help keep it thriving and looking its lush, green best. Be aware that Sir Walter may take a little longer to recover from heavy use or hard wear and tear.
Palmetto Buffalo is the perfect choice for a low-maintenance lawn, that looks green and lush year-round. Palmetto is great for high-heat climates as it’s very heat tolerant. And in addition to its shade-tolerance is extremely hard-wearing. We think it could well be the best lawn for shade. Applying fertiliser twice a year will keep it thriving.
Zoysia grasses aren’t as shade tolerant as Buffalos. But they can tolerate daily shade of around 40%. So they’re ideal if your yard receives sunlight filtered through trees or built structures.
Sir Grange is a new Zoysia here in Australia. Because of its slow growth, it requires the lowest lawn maintenance of all Zoysia options. This means less mowing, fertilising or watering then just about all other lawn options. It’s also quite lovely, with a fine leaf.
Like Buffalo grasses, Zoysia require at least two to three hours of direct sunlight each day and will benefit from a premium seasonal fertiliser during the year. It may take a little longer to recover from hard wear and tear.
Empire Zoysia is a fantastic cost-effective lawn option – and one of the best lawns for shade. It has an emerald-green hue year-round, and a fine soft leaf, making it great for children and pets. Empire Zoysia also requires less mowing and watering compared to other varieties, and is resistant to weeds, high temperatures or changes in humidity. It tolerates high wear and tear, as well as high temperatures and humidity changes.
Caring for shade-tolerant lawns
A little TLC is needed to help shade-tolerant lawns thrive. First, all shade-tolerant grasses need at least some sunlight to thrive, as grass can’t grow without a light source. Three to four hours of direct sunlight is ideal. Or if the sunlight is filtered, then a longer period. If you can control the sun’s access to your yard by trimming hedges or overhanging branches – or moving furniture or play equipment – it’s a good idea to do so.
Allowing your grass to grow taller than you may be used to is essential. The longer leaf blades enable the grass to photosynthesise in low-sunlight environments.
What not to look for in the best lawn for shade
As a final tip, it can help to know what not to be looking for when researching the best shade-tolerant grass for your yard. We suggest avoiding Couch and Bermuda grass varieties as they thrive in full sunlight locations. And no matter how much care you give these lawns – if they don’t get enough sunlight, they just won’t do well. You’ll be left with a struggling lawn that certainly won’t impress the neighbours!
If your backyard is shaded by trees, hedges or the next-door neighbour’s huge renovation, we can help you find the best lawn for shade. And how to keep it in tip top shape! Get in touch to talk through your backyard lawn needs. For all your lawn care tips, head over to our product info page. And for more helpful posts like this one, keep an eye on our how to page.