Lawn grown in the shade of a tree or building often becomes sparse from lack of sunlight. Choosing a lawn grass that is tolerant of moderate shade can help, when combined with appropriate turf care. Normally lawn grass grown in shade will struggle due to the lack of sunlight even on the Gold Coast. Choosing a lawn grass species that is tolerant of moderate shade will help. As well as lacking sunlight because of the shade from a large tree, the lawn will competing with the tree for water and nutrients.
Controlling Moss in your lawn.
In colder climates you might also find moss growing in your shaded lawn. An effective way to control this is with the application sulphate of iron and some nitrogen rich fertiliser. This is really a quick fix for the problem. A longer term solution is to aerate the lawn and top dress regularly with a sandy loam soil.
Feeding the lawn
Lawns in shade are best fed in autumn. If your shaded lawn is under a deciduous tree, fertilise prior to the leaves falling. Do not allow leaves or bark to remain on the lawn for long periods of time. Normally a fertiliser rich in potassium will be beneficial for your shaded lawn, but you will need to ensure the fertiliser used is also compatible with any nearby trees.
Watering your shaded lawn
Lawns in shady parts of your garden may be more susceptible to fungal diseases. Water the lawns early in the morning so the blades of grass can dry during the day. To prevent fungal diseases and reduce competition from trees, dethatch then aerate the lawn. Use a soil wetter and water heavily and infrequently.This will encourage the trees to root deeply.
Mowing your shaded lawn
Less frequent mowing and mowing no lower than 5cm depending on the lawn grass species selected. The lawn clippings need to always be removed from your shaded lawn.
Shade tolerant lawn varieties.
If you are looking for a shade tolerant lawn grass for shady areas of your sub-tropical Gold Coast lawn, consider the “Sweet Smother Grass” also known as Durban grass or Berea. For cooler temperate climates fescue grass with some bent grass can be used. Berea is a medium coarse textured creeping grass, but easier to keep under control than kikuyu. Ideal for the low maintenance garden or the pet friendly garden. This picture shows it thriving under an enormous Ficus macrophylla, (also known as the Moreton Bay fig or Australian banyan). In fact, Sweet Smother Grass will survive well with less than 3 hours of sunlight per day. The soil needs to be friable and well drained so regular top dressing is a good idea. Smother grass can even be used to stabilise sandy soils. If you are designing a garden in one of the sandy dunes part of the Gold Coast like Mermaid Beach, Miami or Broadbeach, the ability of the Sweet Smother Grass to stabilise sandy soils is an added bonus. This grass variety is not particularly hard wearing or resistant to frost, but its tolerance for shady conditions is unsurpassed. Frost is not usually a problem on the Gold Coast, but you might see some in the higher areas below Mount Tamborine. This could be a consideration when you are designing a garden in Guanaba, Mount Nathan, Maudsland, Riverstone Crossing or even Upper Coomera. When designing a Gold Coast garden, berea would be a better option than even Sapphire or Sir Walter for filtered sunlight or shady spots in your lawn.
Alternatives to Lawn.
For very shady areas of your garden even shade tolerant lawn grasses will struggle. In these cases take a look at some of the alternatives to grass like Dichondra repens or the Native Violet (Viola hederacea). Other ground covers such as Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) will create food and habitat for native fauna and also suppress weeds. Some other alternative are wood mulch or even a gravel mulch in a Japanese garden.
For more information on Sweet Smother Grass https://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db/www/imp02705.htm
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