best grass for North Texas shade

gamosesMarch 3, 2011

I'm looking for some advice on the best grass to put in my backyard in the Dallas, TX area. It is part full sun, but under a Bradford pear tree and in a 3-4 feet strip along the fence it is full shade. The Bermuda grass and weeds are doing ok in the sunny area, but the shady area is just dirt. I've tried seeding this area a few times with a "shade tolerant" bag of seeds bought from Lowes (mostly fescue varieties, I think), but they don't stand up well to the long hot, dry summers.

As much as my kids like digging holes in the dirt, I've decided it's time to sod. Even if I trim the tree a little, the strip along the fence will still be full shade. So ideally I'm looking for a low maintenance, drought tolerant, kid tolerant, shade tolerant variety. Shouldn't be too hard, right?

After some googling, I was hoping Zoysia Palisades might work, but I was told it wouldn't do well in the full shade. St. Augustine Del Mar was then recommended to me, but I was hoping to avoid having such a thirsty lawn. Any suggestions for my situation?

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texas_weed(7A)

There is no grass for full shade.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 6:33PM
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gamoses

What would you recommend for the partial shade under the tree?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:04PM
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tiemco

I agree with texas-weed, but when you say full shade, do you mean that the area gets no sun at all or it only gets a few hours a day?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:10PM
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texas_weed(7A)

Only warm season grass that might stand a chance is Saint Augustine in particular Palmetto. However SA is incompatible with Bermuda grass.

No offense but Bradford Pear tress are nuisance trees and considered a weed to most people. They grow incredible fast with poor weak wood. You will have to cut them down before they reach 10 years old if a storm does not destroy them before that. I suggest biting the bullet and get rid of them now while they are still small and cheap to cut down and have hauled off.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:11PM
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gamoses

The tree is about 10 feet from the 8 ft privacy fence on the south side of the yard. So even during the longest summer days, a 2-3 ft strip is still in the shade of the fence.

The tree was well established when we moved in 9 yrs ago, so it's probably already 15-20 yrs old. They seem to be common in my neighborhood, possibly because the yards are small. I do like having some shade in the yard. Since I only plan on being in this house a couple more years, I don't really want to cut it down because there's not enough time to start over with a different kind of tree. But I will definitely have it significantly trimmed out.

As far as the Bermuda, I'm ok with getting rid of it and sodding the whole back yard. So TW, are you saying that SA Palmetto has better shade tolerance than DelMar?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:55AM
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wrager(Z5 OH)
    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 2:31PM
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texas_weed(7A)

Wrager I do not think Tif Grand sode is available in DFW yet, however Celebration is and it is as good as Tif Grand shade performance.

GAMOSES you have quite a challenge ahead of you. If your Bermuda grass is established, and I can only assume it is if the house is more than a year or two old, it will be almost impossible to eradicate and replace with SA.

Oh of SA grasses Palmetto is the most shade tolerant of them and has excellent cold and frost tolerance which makes it a good choice for the DRW area.

Have you considered shade tolerant ornamental grasses and plants in those areas?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:34PM
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dwrecktor

Don't mean to hijack this thread, but this is related to shade tolerant Bermuda.

TW, don't know if you recall, but several of us here including you had this discussion last year about TifGrand and Celebration. Interesting that you say Celebration is equivalent to TifGrand in shade performance. Coming from you, with your expertise, that statement is significant. If I may ask, what led you to that conclusion? Have you witness this yourself? Or is it based off of the Clemson study? Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shade Tolerance Bermuda Thread

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 11:40PM
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texas_weed(7A)

Coming from you, with your expertise, that statement is significant. If I may ask, what led you to that conclusion? Have you witness this yourself? Or is it based off of the Clemson study?
Thanks for the kuddos. Witnessed no have no experience with either one, Clemson no.

I picked it up from trade publications, peers in the biz, and from what I consider one of the best universities in the country for turf grass research departments Oklahoma State University faculty researchers.

Just keep in mind TifGrand is a USA developed product and Celebration is a Australia developed product.One maybe slightly better than the other in terms of shade tolerance. But from what my friends at OSU tell me and trade magazines its a toss up.

TifGrand is still very new and thus expensive in very limited areas. Celebration is a bit older and has wider distribution thus less expensive. If you have the choice between the two, I would opt for the least expensive...

However from this ole sod farmer POV, shade tolerant Bermuda is an oxymoron.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 12:13AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Nothing stands up to long, hot, dry summers unless you water it. Once you water as needed, almost anything will stand up to the Dallas summer...and what's the deal with all the Dallas people all of a sudden?

For your shady area I would suggest several inches of shredded "cedar" mulch from the Texas Hill Country. Cedar is a pest to the Hill Country people so you'd be doing them a favor to buy their trash. I've used it for years and really like it. I believe the Letco brand is available in D. I liked them when they were in San Antonio. Letco has another brand they sell at Lowe's, but it's the same thing.

There is a variety of zoysia that might work under your tree but not if you are not going to water it. It is called Shadow Turf. Search the forum and look for my pictures of it.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 12:30AM
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texas_weed(7A)

.and what's the deal with all the Dallas people all of a sudden?

I hear spring arrived a couple of weeks ago. I was there last week to pick up my dogs and it was nice and warm with all the Bradford Pear trees in full bloom, and yards pink, purple, and green with weeds. Three weeks ago covered in ice and snow I hear.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:02PM
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wrager(Z5 OH)

Someone posted here last year that they got TifGrand for $150 a pallet, in the Atlanta market. I think it was from Super Sod. I'm going to try a few pallets this year where my 419 struggles. I don't think I can't get Celebration in this market.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:16PM
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terricc

Hi everyone.

TifGrand is available from Hampton Gardens (sprigs) in TX. Quality Turf, King Ranch and Bladerunner Farms should have it available some time this summer: it should be pretty readily available in ATL this year. A full list of growers is available at www.tifgrand.com/tg2growers.htm.

THe most recent thing I've seen posted about TifGrand is here - http://turfunderground.com/?s=tifgrand.

gamoses, you might want to check out Zeon or JaMur zoysia, (http://www.yardsbybladerunner.com/grasses/zoysiagrass/jamur-zoysiagrass) both of which will do well in shaded conditions, also. (But not full shade, as texas-weed correctly points out.) Bladerunner Farms could give you contact info for the Dallas area (888-717-4455).

Here is a link that might be useful: TifGrand - the world's first sterile Bermuda hybrid for shade!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 8:41PM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

I might like to try some TifGrand, but I was wondering what other differences there are from Celebration? Is it the same blue green color and same texture blades? Does it have a faster or slower growth rate?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 3:51PM
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terricc

Hi pkapeckopickldpepprz (did I get that right?)

TifGrand is a dense turfgrass with a deep green, fine blade. It grows by both stolons and rhizomes and reports indicate it's pretty fast. Take a look at these photos from The Bears Club down at the bottom of the page. There are other photos there that will show you the texture clearly.

Here is a link that might be useful: TifGrand - the world's first sterile Bermudagrass for shade!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 7:48PM
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rdaystrom

Texas-Weed, You said, "SA is incompatible with Bermuda grass". What? are you nuts? They go together like peanut butter and jelly. And this other statement...(No offense but Bradford Pear tress are nuisance trees and considered a weed to most people). Yes they break etc. but they are not considered a weed. As a matter of fact most people love them. That's why they got so popular. Duh.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 12:09AM
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texas_weed(7A)

rdaystrom get a clue, SA and Bermuda are incompatible. They require completely different maintenance practices. Bermuda will choke out SA if maintained properly.

The only reason Bradford pear trees are popular is because they are dirt cheap and is what general contractors use on spec homes. Yes a lot of people consider them weeds, or the people who know something about trees

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:17PM
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rdaystrom

Desirable? Maybe not so much, but St Augustine and Bermuda co-exist everywhere like it or not. So they are not incompatible.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:27AM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

I'm going to have to agree with rdaystrom here. Sorry texas-weed but in my experience on several lawns here in Florida Bermuda mixed with SA is very common. Sure it may be a sign that the landscapers aren't eradicating one of the other, but in my opinion not only is it unneccesary, but the blend of grass to me looks better than either on their own. To say they are incompatible is ludicrous. I already made a case where Bermuda is thriving MORE in shadier spots than parts that are full sun for 2+ years now and yet you haven't retracted any of your claims that it's not possible.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 2:37AM
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texas_weed(7A)

Bermuda is thriving MORE in shadier spots than parts that are full sun for 2+ years now and yet you haven't retracted any of your claims that it's not possible.

Why would I retract my statement? If you want to believe Bermuda grows better in shade than in full Sun you are free to be believe what you want, I don't care.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 3:48PM
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texas_weed(7A)

pkapeckopickldpepprz & rdaystrom,

Let's attack this SA vs Bermuda thing from a different perspective OK?

I assume folks who answer questions here know a little bit about that they are talking about, and are pretty much Lawn Snobs? Right? Some are even professionals who have done it for decades. In addition Home Owners coming here asking question are not your typical trailer trash and are looking to have a better than average lawn. That is why this forums and other like it exist.

So based on that perspective; the two of you answer one very simple question. What pre and post emergence herbicide would you use on a mixed SA - Bermuda lawn?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 4:19PM
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nearandwest(7)

I believe I hear the Jeopardy theme song playing in the background.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:48PM
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rdaystrom

Texas-Weed, Your question about herbicides is irrelevant. The point in contention here hinges upon the word incompatible. You state that St. Augustine is incompatible with Bermuda.
The definition of INCOMPATIBLE:
"So opposed in character as to be incapable of existing together."
Like it or not the two grasses grow together with "compatibility" almost everywhere much to the chagrin of the owners in many cases.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 2:01AM
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dwrecktor

Maybe incompatible in the strictest sense of the word is not the right word, but Bermuda and SA are very different when it comes to shade, cultural practice, and herbicide use. And while I've seem homes around here w/ a mix of the two, I would have say, IMHO, it's one of the ugliest things you can do to your lawn. Most of those homeowner just want their grass cut for cheapest price possible, and like TW said, would not be here on this forum. Those here like myself, however, do care and it's important to us that we understand the difference between grasses, and I think it's safe to say that all of us would love to have one uniform lawn w/ one type of grass, but for whatever reason we may not be able to.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:15AM
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texas_weed(7A)

Well I can see rdaystrom and pkapeckopickldpepprz are not going to answer the question. It was a gotcha question :>)

Like I said most people who come here are your above average homeowners who want a better than average looking lawn. With that respect SA and Bermuda are incompatible.

The question I asked about herbicides demonstrates the two are incompatible. Go down to the local box store and pick up a bag of herbicide made for SA and it likely is a Atrazine product. Atrazine will kill Bermuda grass and about all other grasses except Saint Augustine.

On the flip side of the coin if you go buy post emergence herbicide for Bermuda it will likely contain MSMA, and the sure fire way to kill SA is to spray it with MSMA because SA is a broad leaf weed which MSMA targets.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 2:46PM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

My contention about St Augustine and Bermuda being incompatible is a lark. I work for a homeowner that has a landscape company take care of their lawn. It is a local company so it is better than the average corporate franchise company like Tru-Green or whatever. I have seen them struggle for years trying to eradicate Bermuda from the St Augustine lawn to no avail. Heck the bermuda looks better than the St. Augustine and ironically, in the shadier spots of the property guess which grass is dominant... the bermuda, that's what. This wasn't sodded bermuda but the native/common type. In my opinion they should stop trying to eradicate the Bermuda and just let it thrive. The homeowners don't even notice and they are more concerned with the brown patches of the thatched St. Augustine than the lush Bermuda growing amongst the St. Augustine.

Also was that a dig about this forum being for above average homeowners implying rdaystrom and I aren't, or that those that could even fathom the idea that St. Augustine and Bermuda could peacefully co-exist, are somehow equivilent to trailer trash? That's a stretch and nice way to make things personal Texas-Weed. You did say one thing about some people being grass snobs, also implying they are somehow superior. Would it be safe to assume you are a grass snob? I know it is your trade and you take pride in what you do, but to insinuate anyone that disagrees with you is somehow inferior is a sign of your own insecurities.

What I'd like to see is a debate between you and kimmsr on the organic lawn and soil and composting forum as you are both opinionated to where there is only one right answer and he would dismiss you for not adding organic matter to the soil for a healthy lawn and you would dismiss him for not using Lesco products.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 12:15AM
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dwrecktor

pkap..., you might wanna check your reference before assuming TW on pushes Lesco products. I remember reading he uses CGM on his lawn. Also, this isn't the organic lawn care forum, so I would expect anyone posting here to recommend synthetic lawn products.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 1:46AM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

I'm not assuming he does recommend Lesco products. I am not knocking that as I use Lesco products and it was due to learning it about it from him. I just was making a point that like kimmsr on the organic forum he would frown upon using Lesco 39-0-0 whereas Texas-Weed would dismiss anyone foolish enough to use coffee grounds on their lawn saying it would take 2 tons of coffee to be enough nitrogen for Bermuda. I say use BOTH not one or the other.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 2:43AM
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