sod for heavy shade

glasshalffullMarch 19, 2011

I need to sod part of my yard and i'm wondering what's a good sod for shade here in St. Louis, Mo.

I have some huge trees providing the shade and i'm going to thin them out but i can't afford to do it right now as it will cost a couple thousand to do so.

so my idea is to at least get the sod going there now, give it a chance to get established and then in the fall i can come in and hopefully thin the trees a bit.

I need to do the sodding regardless as the soil is slowly starting to wash away and the ground is bare.

I know sod will establish there as the neighbors said it was growing fine there years ago but it's been neglected for some years by the previous owners.

so what types of sod can i put down? does tall fescu work in shade? is it ok to sod in the spring?

thanks for your thoughts

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texas-weed(7A)

Astro turf. No grass can grow in heavy shade.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 3:33PM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

Your neighbor is drunk if he seen turf under a tree.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 7:44PM
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tiemco

Ok, let's not give this guy too much of a hard time. In the current NTEP tall fescue trials, there are many cultivars that are in the 7's, and plenty more in the 6's that have been in heavy shade for 4 years. I recently contacted Dr. Ken Diesburg of the University of Southern Illinois, where the shade trial is being conducted. Here is his description of the TF plots: "My shade trials are completely shaded, normally. The big wind of May 8, 2009, felled a few trees in the tall fescue shade trial. So two patches of sunlight are making their way across the trial as the canopy heals, adding error to the trial. Even so, larger LSDs should reflect the increase in error. The typical irradiance intensity in my trials is 300 to 400 micro-moles per meter-squared-second, which is at the lower irradiance threshold for complete photosynthesis by cool-season grasses such as tall fescue. In a nut-shell, the shade is strong. I mow at a 3-inch clip; fertilize 2 to 3 lb N/1000 sq ft/year; irrigate only to prevent summer dormancy. A post-emergent herbicide is applied only in the case where broadleaf weeds might threaten to ruin the data. The tall fescue trial received two applications over the past four years." So perhaps it isn't such a crazy idea afterall. Of course you probably won't be able to find sod that contains the top shade tolerant TF cultivar(s), but you can buy seeds of many of them, and can grow your own sod.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:11PM
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dmoore66_gardener(6)

It was growing fine years ago because the trees were much smaller!
I would not try to grow grass under huge trees.
I would either mulch the area or put down decorative stone!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:49AM
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nearandwest(7)

What about creeping red fescue?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:07AM
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tiemco

"What about creeping red fescue?"

It's certainly an option, and is probably the most shade tolerant of the major cool season grasses, but my only worry would be if it could tolerate the heat and humidity of St. Louis. To be honest any grass in those conditions is going to struggle, including tall fescue. NTEP tests fine fescues in Virginia, so if you do decide to go that route, then use varieties that perform best there. The Kentucky location doesn't mow it's fine fescue plots, so that data is probably not very good for your needs.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:37AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Tiemco has a good point. Fine fescues do well with less sun, less water and less fertilizer than tall fescue and KBG, but fine fescues tend to suffer in heat. They'll often go dormant even if they have sufficient water. If the shade makes it cool enough, creeping red fescue may work fine, but it's likely to go dormant for a good portion of the summer in STL.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:42PM
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rdaystrom

Texas Weed, Have you got a loose screw in your head or something? Your statement, No grass can grow in heavy shade." Whatever.......Have you ever been to Louisiana and gazed upon some of those beautiful St. Augustine yards that have been there for decades under gigantic Oaks and Pine Trees? It grows right up to the trunks. I can't get that coverage where I am but I have seen it many times all over Louisiana.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 12:39AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I think one person's "dense shade" is another person's 'filtered sunlight.' I talk about my yard having dense shade but I don't have to go very far down the street to find yards with a lot more shade than I have.

The densest shade comes from dense trees that are low to the ground. As the canopy moves away from the ground, more light comes in and the grass gets better access to the sun.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:14PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Texas Weed, Have you got a loose screw in your head or something? Your statement, No grass can grow in heavy shade."

No but apparently you do if you think grass can grow in heavy dense shade. Yeah some varieties of Saint Augustine can grow in filtered shade, not all, but that do tolerate shade still needs at least 4 hours of direct sunlight. As Dave says you can raise the canopy up to get enough morning and afternoon sun, but heavy dense shade no grass will grow.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:48PM
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rdaystrom

A few of my screws have fallen out so I still think you may have a few loose ones. Better get them checked.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 10:20PM
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texas-weed(7A)

A few of my screws have fallen out so I still think you may have a few loose ones. Better get them checked.

Will do thanks ole friend. :>)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 12:59AM
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