As we continue to look at preventative means to maintain a healthy lawn without the need of intervention from the uses of pesticides, we're going to look at the problem of shade and lawns.
While we've talked about shade and the importance of sunlight to lawn health elsewhere, we believe it is necessary to look at this issue from an organic lawn care perspective as well.
Shade is an issue for lawns for many reasons which begin with the intolerance of lawns to grow under shaded conditions. If a lawn were lucky enough to stay green in shaded - this will often lead to a weak lawn which will not be able to tolerate very much wear and tear, nor will it be strong enough to naturally fight off disease and weeds.
The next problem which occurs from shaded turf is that many lawns will often become bare or sparse in patches. This not only leads the sod to become rather ugly, but also becomes fertile ground for weed invasions. Once weeds begin to get established amongst the lawn - they will most easily spread over the rest of the lawn.
The final problem from shade is that the thatch layer and soil of the turf often stays moist for longer periods of time, or perhaps will stay moist permanently. This problem leads to this grass area becoming a perfect breeding ground for all lawn diseases, as well as to the growth of moss.
And none of these things are good for our entire lawn, so let's look at ways to fix these shade related problems, so these problems never occur, and therefore never need treatments - with prevention being the cornerstone philosophy of Organic Lawn Care.
So now we know the importance of reducing shade to our lawns, lets look at the options available to us, so we can best choose the right path forward for our own home environments.
Pruning surrounding foliage to let in more direct sunlight is always the very first step to increase direct sunlight to our lawns.
Growing a different lawn type which is more shade tolerant may be the best option for your home. Durban Grass is the best shade tolerant warm season lawn in Australia, but is often difficult to find. Next up is Buffalo Grass, with recent turf studies revealing Sapphire to be the most shade tolerant Buffalo, followed by Matilda. And if Buffalo isn't your preferred lawn type, then Zoysia ranks third for shade tolerance. Couch and Kikuyu have the worst shade tolerance of all warm season grasses.
Another option is to reduce the amount of water which reaches the areas of lawn that are in shade. Try different sprinkler combinations and watering times to achieve this. The reduction in water in these areas will aid in reducing invasion by lawn disease.
Soil aeration is great for all lawns, but becomes more important in shaded conditions to ensure a greater free flowing of water away from the area.
If the soil is clay based or otherwise holds onto water, then a free flowing sand can be raked into the open holes after lawn coring to improve soil drainage.
After all these things are considered or tried without improvement, then it may be time to consider other options. These may include planting Dichondra in the shaded areas, or to completely remove the lawn altogether and consider paving or a garden bed for shade tolerant plants.