Grass needs just a few things to grow: water, fertile soil and, of course, sunlight. If your lawn is dry you can water it. If your soil isn’t fertile you can lay down fertilizer. Unfortunately, if you’re not getting enough sunshine you can’t control the sun. Sunlight is absolutely essential for a lush, healthy lawn. Without sunlight, grass can’t photosynthesize to transform sunlight into nutrients. You may look out the window at your dark, dead lawn and feel like there is nothing you can do. However, you are not powerless. There are steps you can take to grow a full, beautiful lawn, even if you don’t get much sun.
Grow lowlight grasses like Fescues. Not every type of grass needs the same amount of light to survive. If you have a lawn that gets little sunlight, grow grass that uses sunlight as efficiently as possible. Fescues are one type of grass that should fit the bill.
Water infrequently and deeply. It’s possible that the source of shade on your lawn is other plants like trees and shrubs. This means that competition for water under the surface of your lawn is probably fierce with trees and grasses vying for water.
Use a higher setting on your lawnmower. Keep your lawnmower blade set to three inches. Lowlight grasses need to be kept longer. More overall surface area allows grass to capture more sunlight.
Prune your trees. If trees are the source of the shade on your lawn and you don’t want to cut them down, you can prune them. Pruning trees will let additional light through to help your lawn grow lush and green.
Limit foot traffic/aerate soil. Compacted soil isn’t good for any lawn, but it’s especially bad for lawns that don’t get much light. If your lawn is shady, limit foot traffic, and regularly aerate.
Ground cover. If your shade is especially dense, you can go for a green carpet that isn’t grass. Select a shade-loving ground cover for those areas that just won’t support grass. In addition to the usual pachysandra, check out foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) or wild ginger (Asarum canadense). They are both shade-loving ground covers. The foamflower contributes spikes of white or pink flowers in the spring.