Mature trees on your Calgary property provide shade as well as privacy and can even reduce the need to cool your home in the summer. In addition, the root systems of your trees help prevent erosion on slopes around your property. And, mature trees add to the resale value of your home. Unfortunately, wherever your trees shade your property, the grass does not grow very well or at all. Most types of grass struggle in shady areas are prone to fungal infestations and do not do well in the shade. But, you don’t need to choose between a lush lawn and shade trees.
Here are some tips for how to grow grass on your shaded Calgary lawn.
Choosing Grass for Shaded Areas of Your Calgary Lawn
When you hire Tazscapes to handle your home landscaping in Calgary, we take care of the choices of plant materials. We test the topsoil and the wind and sun conditions on your property. We help you choose the best trees and shrubs for your property and plant them for you. In addition, we help you grow grass on your shaded Calgary lawn by choosing the right sod or grass seed to use.
How Lawn Grass Is Affected by Shade
Like all plants, lawn grasses need air, water, nutrients and light. And, when you have lots of mature trees shading your property, it can affect your lawn. Tree roots draw water from the soil, competing with your grass for available water, nutrients and even oxygen. Shaded areas of your yard commonly fail to dry out after the rain, making the grass more prone to fungal infestations. But, the most apparent effect of too little sun reaching your lawn is that the grass will be thin, tall, and weak. Because less sun hitting the grass means less chlorophyll, many types of grass lose their standard, attractive deep green colour.
The root systems of your trees often extend beyond shaded areas, with more than half of their root systems lying in the top six inches of the soil. So, even when your trees are not cutting off needed sunlight, they compete for water and nutrients.
Shade-tolerant Grasses for Your Calgary Lawn
At Tazscapes, we use three shade-tolerant types of grass for Calgary lawns with lots of trees. Fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass all have sub-varieties that do well on shaded lawns. We make sure to use shade-tolerant grasses best adapted to the climate in Calgary.
Fescue is a dark green grass with narrow leaves. It is the most shade-tolerant of all cool-season grasses primarily because of its deep root system. Therefore, fine fescue is your best choice for a shaded lawn followed by tall fescue. These grass varieties will do well when they get at least four hours of dappled or partial sunlight each day.
While most bluegrass does best in full sun, there are shade-tolerant varieties such as rough bluegrass. Like the fescue varieties we use, rough bluegrass will do well so long as it gets four hours of partial sun each day.
Our third choice is perennial ryegrass which is a dark green grass with a fine texture. This grass will do well with four to five hours of partial sun a day but needs more than dappled sunlight.
Trim Your Trees to Increase Sunlight to Your Lawn
While there are shade-tolerant grasses, even these do better with more sunlight. A helpful approach is to periodically trim your trees and shrubs to let more sunlight hit your yard. Professional trimming will help your trees get more sunlight on lower branches and for younger trees.
Shade-Tolerant Grass-like Plants and Ornamentals
When you have mature trees and thus a lot of shade, an excellent alternative to planting grass is to plant grass-like plants and ornamentals that are shade-tolerant. Here are a few examples.
Tufted Hair Grass
This plant grows as high as three feet and three feet wide. It blooms a silky green and matures to a golden bronze-yellow. Plant this in clumps by retaining walls, pathways, or decorative rocks. It is not bothered by moist, shady locations.
Northern Sea Oats
This plant grows three feet high by three feet wide, blooms green and matures to a brownish copper. It resembles bamboo, reseeds itself, and grows in full shade.
Japanese Forest Grass
Grows to 18 inches high and 24 inches wide. It blooms slightly green, matures to lime green, and turns reddish in the fall. It grows slowly and does OK partial but not full
Fall Blooming Reed Grass
This grass-like plant grows four feet high and three feet wide. It gives you upright clumps of grass with pink flowers late in the summer to early fall. It does well in partial shade but not in full shade.
This plant can grow to a couple of feet in height and a foot or so in width in Northern climates. There are several shade-tolerant varieties with a variety of colour options. You can get ones that spread and clump, and the plant is tolerant of moisture and full to part shade.
This grass substitute can grow a foot high and three feet wide. It has a purple bloom from August to September and forms mounds of foliage. It spreads aggressively and is OK for either full or partial shade.
Greater Wood Rush
This grass substitute grows to a foot high and a foot wide. It blooms yellow to green and matures to a chestnut brown. Its soft green foliage is perfect for wooded sites with lots of shade.
The sweet flag can grow to foot high and a foot wide. It has colourful and very fragrant foliage. It is ideal for wet to moist soil in full to partial shade.
If you are planning to landscape a shaded lot or simply are having problems with grass growing under your trees in Calgary, contact us for help by calling (587) 578-0747at Tazscapes Inc.