How to grow grass in a shady area

by Phyllis
My backyard has a big pecan tree that shades the left side of my house. I can not get grass to grow. It stays a bare dirt area. Can you suggest grass plants or rock or stones. I'm on a very limited budget.
This is after a rain. If I put anything over here it gets mud on it when it rains. I would live to have money to build a deck over it.
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  17 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 25, 2015
    To start it appears your soil needs to be amended.Do so with a garden soil and peat moss.I would scallop the area out to give it a form.Use a old hose until you find a design that you will like .Perennial grasses do better with sun, however the are a few that will tolerate shade,.Carex Evergold, Hakonechloa Aureola for another. Lirope is a grass like smaller boarder plant. Hostas and Hucheras also would work in shade.Since the season is comming to and end,many stores are clearing out there plants to help with the cost. Lowes and Home Depot offer discounts on broken bags of soils and rocks which will also help with your cost.
  • Recycler Recycler on Oct 25, 2015
    use a ground cover or make it into a garden....almost impossible to grow grass in the shade I live in a wooded area and that is what most neighbors have done
  • Denise Boyce Denise Boyce on Oct 25, 2015
    Found this excellent informational site on growing lawn grass. I also did a soil type search for Charles City and it shows you have sandy loam which is typically great soil so you really shouldn't need soil amendment. Your county extension service will do a soil test from your yard for $6.00 if your worried about it. By your picture it looks to me like you have filtered light so Fescue should do great in Virginia. The company link below sells seed for shaded fescue. I also found lawn grass information directly for your state in this pdf; Tall fescue sod is moderatelydrought and shade tolerant and performs well throughout Virginia. If, however, you are looking to plant a lawn in a fully shaded area, then the fescue seed for you is Fine fescue grass seed. This variety needs full or at least partial shade, but will not do well in direct sunlight. Use our Fine Fescue Turfgrass Blend to grow a beautiful lawn under a large oak tree or awning. Not only will it be shade tolerant, but the Fine Fescue Turfgrass Blend will not need as frequent watering and can endure poor soil types better than other varieties. Good luck, hope this helps. I wish I had that pecan tree. [ =
  • Vicki Mann Vicki Mann on Oct 25, 2015
    Look for ajuga plants. They are low growing and love the shade, and they spread. Over time they will cover your area. Check out chocolate chip ajuga which is ground hugging and evergreen.
    • Denise Boyce Denise Boyce on Oct 25, 2015
      @Vicki Mann chocolate chip Ajuga is so nice! Prolific too. Good choice if not wanting to try grass again. great answer Vicki!
  • Linda March Linda March on Oct 26, 2015
    Redo the ground and add some plants that love the shade and humidity. They will grow nice out there, even if you don't have a lot of sun. I would recomend Ajuga Plants for that (as Vicky Mann recommended).
  • Rosemary Kelly Rosemary Kelly on Oct 26, 2015
    Sod works. It comes in like a 2'x4' square for $2. You don't have to do it all. Looks like you also have a drainage issue.
  • Annie Medic Annie Medic on Oct 26, 2015
    More importantly, what do you want to do with your back yard? You see dirt and think this should be green, but it doesn't have to be green grass. Look on Pinterest for alternatives to grass. Think about how God grows in shade, trees, smaller trees, low bushes, then low plants. And you can do much with almost no money. Put a thick layer of straw, wet it thoroughly for 2 weeks while adding some urea you get from a farm store for $20 for 50 lbs, and then add a thin layer of dirt. Then plant into it with what ever you desire. Make a plan, look at gardening books for your region. Creative Homeowner makes a nice book that is regional: "Northeast including southeast Canada" is for my region, but they make one for all the regions. I love their ideas for small areas. Hope this helps!!!
  • Kathy Kathy on Oct 26, 2015
    At my daughters house, her yard got very flooded. Built a deck on the ground laying the first boards on blocks. Looks great and now they use yard all the time.
  • Rus1058682 Rus1058682 on Oct 26, 2015
    look on the net for grass that will grow in shaded areas, and in your region, Or ask at the local nursery, as they would know for sure. You are not obligated to buy from them, but the information they possess is very useful..
  • Pete Sakes Pete Sakes on Oct 26, 2015
    The downspout extension needs to go all the way to the fence to keep the area dryer when it rains. If it were mine I'd bury a longer downspout extension with gravel underneath, that shouldn't cost much, just the price of the gravel if you dig the hole yourself. Then as money permitted I'd buy square stones and start placing them as I get them Before you know it you'll have a beautiful stone patio for gathering and grilling.
  • Kathy C Kathy C on Oct 26, 2015
    yes, sort out the drainage first, then I would go with ferns, hostas, aucuba, hakon grass, fatsia japonica, azaleas if on acid soil and plant them and mulch with self binding gravel with a few well placed rocks. It could be so pretty and still give you somewhere nice to sit.
  • I see a grill in the corner and a cap for a septic? Do you have dogs? Since your yard is so small I would think about that enertaining area and start with small rock and here in VA it is relatively cheap with a pick up for less than $40. (cheaper than bags) so if you can borrow a bigger pick up, then I would think about gravel here and make it your patio. Later on you can add a deck or even pavers. I would edge (now this is for budget- go with the contractor grade black plastic edging at HomeDepot because it is larger and easier to work with). As for plants, I would think about pots of hostas, ferns, and all kinds of annuals! If you have a source for some Liriope or Monkey grass you could use that for edging too. Use different types of small chips and 1" gravel to make path to the new area too. I have a path out of gravel dust which is inexpensive too and compacts down to make a nice path. As it has already been stated, put on a longer downspout to go farther away from the house too Or better yet, see about a rain barrel so you can save on water for your plants. Oh and is that your fence? I would think about some privacy and growing some vines. I would also think about growing some Arborvitae in front of the fence (green Emerald grow about 8' tall and 3' wide here) and they grow fairly fast Just some ideas for you
    • See 2 previous
    • Phyllis Phyllis on Oct 30, 2015
      I don't have dogs. I just think it's too shady.
  • Cat1786735 Cat1786735 on Oct 26, 2015
    "Rebels Seed" makes an excellent shade grass seed. I have sown it in a large, very shady area of my yard - it does great and it grows pretty slow too.
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Feb 13, 2024

    You could contact your county's cooperative extension, they have master gardeners and they could advise you.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 13, 2024

    It looks wet! Maybe try Yoghurt and grow moss instead! Build a bog garden using bog loving plants. Make a feature of the problem!

  • It could just be too shady for grass. You could try grass seed for shade but I’d consider other options. Since you mentioned budget, try the free sections of Marketplace and Craigslist for materials like pea gravel or shade plants. See if neighbors are willing to split and trade plants or if there’s a plant exchange in your area.

  • You can try growing a St. Augustine grass. St. Augustine grass is the most shade-tolerant of the warm-season grasses, followed by zoysia grass. Centipede grass and bahia grass perform well under light pine-tree shade but are not as shade-tolerant as St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass.