Are shade seeds invasive - which should I use?

viche(7a MD)September 17, 2011

I am looking to seed an area of freshly laid dirt that gets sun from about 11:00 to 4:00 in the summer, and much less in the fall. I had Tall Fescue in the area previously, but it never thrived, so I looked at some sun/shade mixes. All of them seem to contain combinations of tall fescue, red fescue, chewing fescue, creeping fescue, perennial rye grass, or kentucky blue grass. Can you tell me if any of these will creep into the full sun areas of my yard and then die off?

History: I have been dealing with poa trivialis (roughstalk bluegrass?) for a number of years that I think was introduced via a bag of dense shade seed. The poa thrives in the spring and fall, and spreads into the normally sunny areas of my yard, overcoming the tall fescue growing there. In the summer, the poa that has spread to the sunny areas browns/wilts messing up my tall fescue lawn. So I DON'T want another variety of grass that will do this.

The area I am seeding is also moist, being at the bottom of a hill and gets a lot of rain run off. When it rains super hard, it's not uncommon for a small creak to form in this area. In the summer, the hot mid day sun stresses deep shade grasses.

Can you suggest any seed brands, varieties that might work or that I should avoid considering my conditions and concerns?


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Tall fescue should be fine with that much sun. I have areas that get 3 hours of sun that do very well. There are certain cultivars that don't have a lot of shade tolerance however, and perhaps that is part of your problem. Other issues you may have is poor soil and/or disease that wiped out your stand. Here is a list of the top 12 cultivars in terms of shade tolerance (according to the NTEP): Essential, 3rd Millenium, Rebel IV, Pedigree, Xtremegreen, Firenza, Honky Tonk, Traverse SRP, Falcon IV, Fat Cat, Titanium LS, Tulsa Time, Justice, Corona, and Crossfire 3. Any of those should be fine for your area, as well as many others on the list. If you want to look at the NTEP list, here's the link (page 36).

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 5:49PM
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I was planting a garden this past spring and read up a lot about sun. Full sun, part sun, part shade, etc. The interesting point was that full sun from 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM was the key. This is the most intense sun. So for example, if you get full sun from 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM and then just two more hours before or after this time span then that is considered full sun for plants. If you get sun from 1:00 PM through the rest of the day that would be considered part sun since you are not getting the full four hours of intense sun.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 8:19PM
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viche(7a MD)

Thanks for the info. I wish I had paid more attention to the exact amount of sun this area gets. Part of it might be in shade until 1 pm or so, because it dips under the branches of a tree to its east.

So 3 questions.

If I want one of those more shade tolerant fescues, where would I get it? I know that Rebel supposedly sells a bag of the IV alone, but how would I go about finding the other cultivars?

Will tall fescue germinate now in the fall, with the sun being lower and blocked for most of the day by nearby huge sycamores?

I'm assuming you did not suggest a sun/shade blend because of the 1 to 5 sun exposure. But if I did have some shadier parts (I actually would like to overseed some other areas that get less sun, is my concern about invasion into sunny areas valid for any of the cultivar typically found in those mixes (see original post)?


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 10:44PM
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Finding TF cultivars can be tough, and you probably won't find them at a big box store. Usually you need to go to a local seed seller, or the internet. Oliger seeds carries 3rd Millenium SRP. The Hogan Company carries Falcon IV. There are other sellers on the internet, but I would probably just use the 3rd Millenium if you want to go the TF route. The best time to seed is late summer/early fall. Now is a good time for MD. Seeds will germinate in the dark, but it will need sun to grow and mature enough to get through winter. You should keep an eye on those shady areas to see how much sun they are getting now. You can also buy a Suncalc, which is a meter you stick in the ground and it measures the amount of sun you receive in a 24 hour period. Fine fescues (creeping red, hard, sheep, chewings) will tolerate even more shade, although they do well in sunnier areas too. They have very fine needle like blades, and usually a lighter green color. They are noninvasive for the most part. Creeping red fescue spreads a bit, but it is very slow, and I wouldn't worry too much about taking over an established stand. Poa triv as you know will, as will poa supina.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 4:54PM
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tiemco, I have to differ with you about fine fescue in sunny areas, at least in my part of Maryland. The Maryland-specific publication below recommends fine fescue for shady areas. A few years ago I planted creeping red fescue in a section of yard that I thought was shady. In the really shady areas, it's beautiful. Where there's too much sun, it goes totally dormant and brown in the summer, and lets the weeds in.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 10:11PM
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I agree, I wouldn't recommend fine fescues for full sun, nor did I in the post. The OP has sunny areas, partial shade, and deep shade, at least that's how I read it. When I said the fine fescues will do OK in the sunnier areas, I meant his partial shade, not his full sun areas. That's a good link you posted. I will say that the fine fescue trials run by NTEP are by and large done in full sun, and one of the sites is MD. Sure it will require more water and care to stave off dormancy, but it can be done. If they can grow bentgrass greens in Texas, then you can grow fine fescues in Maryland, it's just going to take more resources and work.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 11:59PM
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