Shade Damage to Your Lawn

What is shade damage? An area (or areas) or your lawn is not receiving adequate sunlight. As a result, your turfgrass is thinning.

How Much Sunlight Does My Lawn Need?

*Note: Even the most shade-tolerant grasses will become thin over two to five years.

Turfgrass Light Requirements

Full Sunshine
Bermudagrass
Full sunshine to very light shade
Hybrid Bermudagrass
Includes Tifway419, Tifway II, TifSport, Patriot
Full sunshine to light shade
TifGrand Bermudagrass
Centipedegrass
Full sunshine to partial shade
Emerald, Zeon Zoysiagrass
Of the Zoysiagrasses, Zeon is the most shade tolerant
St. Augustine Palmetto
Full sunshine to light shade
Meyer, Empire, other broadleaf Zoysiagrass
Light shade to partial shade
Tall Fescue
Most shade tolerant grass in Atlanta requires six hours of direct sunshine or eight hours of filtered light under tall trees. Tall Fescue must be reseeded/ replanted every fall.
Lawn with sunshine

Definition of Sunlight Levels

Full sunshine: Eight hours/day (or more) of unfiltered sunshine
Very light shade: Seven hours/day of sunshine filtered through high pine  foliage or very scattered hardwood trees or seven hours/day of unfiltered sunshine
Light shade: Six hours/day of sunshine filtered through high pine foliage or scattered hardwood trees or six hours/day of unfiltered sunshine
Partial shade: Eight hours/day of sunshine filtered through high pine foliage OR five hours/day of direct sunshine
Shade: All-day sunshine filtered through scattered hardwood trees OR direct sunshine only four hours/day
Dense shade: No direct sunshine touches the lawn all day. Examples: shade between two houses whose shadows prevent sunshine from hitting the lawn all day or turf under a heavy canopy of mature hardwoods

What are the Options for Shady Areas of My Lawn?

  • No turfgrass will grow well in shade or dense shade. For shady areas along existing plant bed(s) consider expanding your plant bed lines with mulch and/or planting shade tolerant plants.
  • For shady areas under tree canopies, consider creating a mulch bed. Mulching under a tree canopy will not only improve the appearance of your landscape, it will benefit the tree’s overall health by removing turf which competes with the tree for nutrients.
  • For shady areas caused by low-hanging tree limbs, consider pruning the tree limbs to increase the amount of sunlight available to the turfgrass.
  • For shady areas caused by your home or other permanent structures, consider installing shade-tolerant plants and/or a stone walking path.
  • If the entire lawn is thinning due to shade and you do not have a Zoysiagrass or Tall Fescue lawn, consider changing your turfgrass to a shade-tolerant variety and/or expanding your planting beds with shade-tolerant plants.