Last updated on May 10th, 2022
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What have you done about the barren shaded areas that stand out in your otherwise magazine-worthy garden? Are they just bare patches of soil, maybe with weeds growing in them? Have you planted all kinds of plants there and none of them survived? The answer to your problem is shade-tolerant grass. Grass for shaded areas is either naturally tolerant of little sun and dry conditions or is manipulated to survive under these conditions.
Some grasses can flourish in sun and shade while others prefer only shaded areas. Look for grass seed that has “for shade” or “for shady areas” on the bag or box to be sure that the grass can tolerate dimly-lit conditions.
Not all grass seeds are equal, though they are very similar. This best grass seed for shade review describes the pros and cons of the shaded area grass seeds that we like because they are effective. They’re all mixes of grass types as a combination of different grasses is usually tougher than single-type grass seeds. We also include a buyer’s guide with information about what features of grass seed to be aware of. This is where the various brands of seed have some differences. We finish off this article with a FAQ section that answers the most popular questions about growing grass in shaded areas.
Our Best Pick for grass seed for shade is Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed. This seed is drought tolerant when fully grown, survives in poor soil conditions too, and would be the best choice for most people looking for a grass seed tolerant of shade.
The Runner-up in our review is the Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed. This grass seed has a long sowing period, from mid-May to early October. You don’t have to decide in the spring if you’re going to grow grass under trees and by tall buildings. With great success rates, this is a great alternative to our best pick.
Top Best Grass Seed for Shade
1. Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed
If the shaded spaces in your garden are usually dry, consider the Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed. This grass seed is a mix of two hardy types of grass in the same family. The mix contains 70% creeping red fescue and 30% chewings fescue which are both tough and drought-resistant. However, fescue is a fine grass so it’s best being used in areas that don’t see much foot traffic.
The drought tolerance of the grass from the Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed is drought tolerant after it’s grown. You have to continuously water it in its initial growing phase as you should after spreading any grass seed. Part of this shaded grass seed’s ability to grow well in the shade is that it can handle poor soil conditions.
This grass seed comes in 1kg and 5kg bags and you order it in multiples of this. If you’re establishing a new lawn, a 5kg bag of seed covers around 67m2; when filling in bare patches, you can cover 230m2. In warm and moist conditions the seeds germinate in five to ten days and have a good success rate, with it also being a top choice on Amazon with many positive reviews too.
- Specialty grass for shady areas so you can have green grass even under your trees.
- Ornamental grass seed mix; best for areas that children and pets don’t use.
- Comes in 1kg and 5kg bags so you can buy just the amount you need.
- Creates a new grass area from scratch to cover up the bare spaces under your bushes and trees.
- Overseeds patchy areas of grass and fills in bald spots.
- Contains 70% strong creeping red fescue and 30% chewings fescue for vibrant green grass.
- Grass seeds germinate in five to ten days when weather conditions are right.
- Germination of the grass seeds sometimes takes weeks, not days but this is more down to growing conditions than seed type.
- Easily scorched by the sun but this is why it needs shade.
- Very fine grass and easily flattened so may not be suitable for well-trafficked areas.
Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed will give you vibrantly green grass in shady areas under trees and nearly any shady position. Initially, it needs much care, especially in watering the growing seeds. Once the blades of grass have grown, you have lush green grass that’s very drought tolerant and gives a great finish.
The Gardeners Dream grass seeds for shaded areas produce fine grass that’s easily trampled. Keeping these seeds for unused spaces rather than kids’ play areas is best. This is a specialty seed for shaded areas and it doesn’t do well in sunny conditions, even with partial sun.
If you have shaded places where regular grass doesn’t grow and are looking for low-maintenance grass that has fine blades, the Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed could be for you.
We’ve made Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed our Best Pick for grass for shaded areas, however, there are some other alternatives for areas that are perhaps more used such as our Runner-up which can handle being walked on more.
2. Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed
Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed is a certified grass seed mix that produces thick green grass and is a great alternative to our best pick. The certification comes from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This institution tests the seeds for purity and assesses how likely they are to germinate. A DEFRA certificate is a mark of high quality.
The Ivisons grass seed mix is a combination of 20% Fancy Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass, 40% Turfgold Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass, and 40% Jubilee Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass. Ryegrass is tough grass that grows well in the dry shaded areas underneath trees. As all the seeds are from the same grass family, the resulting grass is usually uniform in appearance and colour.
The 2kg bag of Ivisons shaded area grass seed is handy when you have a significant amount of grass to create or repair. If you’re creating a new lawn or grassy area, 2kg of seed covers 40m2; if you’re filling in grass or repairing barren patches, 2kg covers 57m2. While some other grass seeds specify the exact months you should sow the seeds, the seeding and initial growth period of the Ivisons grass seeds can be anytime from mid-March to early October.
- Comes in 2kg bags, great if you have a small area to cover.
- Contains 20% Fancy Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass, 40% Turfgold Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass 40%, and Jubilee Dwarf Amenity Ryegrass.
- Handles low light conditions well.
- Grows well in dry shaded areas such as underneath large trees.
- Slow growing when fully grown, so you don’t have to cut the grass very often.
- It Covers 40m2 for new lawns and 57m2 for overseeding.
- Long sowing period from Mid-March to early October so you can put off seeding until the weather cooperates.
- Certified by DEFRA.
- Slow to grow.
- No instructions for spreader settings or application rate which would be useful.
- Couldn’t find the company website, although the seeds are sold in a variety of shops.
Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed contains a mix of three varieties of ryegrass. Ryegrass is known for being a tough, low-growing grass that is drought tolerant. You can use this grass seed mix for play areas and high-traffic places. This grass handles low light conditions well. It’s particularly suited for the dim and dry areas underneath trees.
Online reviewers appreciate the slow-growing grass when they have to mow it. Unfortunately, they report that the seeds are slow to germinate, taking longer than the time that the manufacturer claims, again this is probably more to do with growing conditions. To achieve a dense carpet of grass, some reviewers had to apply two or three times the amount of grass seeds recommended. Sowing the seeds has some risks associated with it because the box doesn’t contain information about the spreader rate or the application density.
Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed is the Runner-up in our assessment of grass seeds for shaded areas. We consider it the best grass seed for under trees and for well-trafficked areas, such as where children might play.
3. Gro-Sure 300g Shady Lawn Seed
Like the other grass seeds in this review, the Gro-Sure 300g Shady Lawn Seed can be used for creating new lawns or overseeding an existing patchy lawn. It’s also good for filling in bare spaces. That being said, the Gro-Sure shady lawn seed has several features not found in the other products we review.
First, the features that the Gro-Sure seed has in common with other shady grass seeds. It grows well in dry shaded areas and has a high tolerance for drought conditions. These shady lawn seeds grow well under trees and shrubs and around buildings in any type of soil. The grass that grows is described as fine, but the types of grass seeds in the mix aren’t advertised. However, the bag does say that this mix doesn’t contain ryegrass.
Three features seem to be unique with the Gro-Sure seeds for shaded areas to the other products in our review. The 300g box has a built-in seed applicator. No more guesstimating about the weight of seeds per square metre that you need to use. The seed applicator dispenses the correct amount of seeds for the recommended coverage density.
The Gro-Sure seeds are treated to be unpalatable to birds. This saves you the time that you’d otherwise spend on scaring off birds and the effort you put in to place nets over your newly sown grass seeds. The third difference is that the manufacturer advertises that these grass seeds win the war over weeds and moss when you use them for overseeding.
- Comes in a 300g box that covers 10m2 so you don’t have to buy kilograms of seed.
- A built-in seed application so can you put down the right density of seed.
- Deters birds so you don’t lose most of your grass seed to hungry sparrows.
- Wins out over weeds and moss when you use it for over-seeding.
- Use for starting a new lawn, overseeding an existing one, or filling in bare patches.
- Medium level of hardwearing so don’t use in play areas.
- Loves dry shady conditions so will grow in shaded areas you’ve given up on.
- Drought tolerance of the grass seed has been improved for better growth.
- High disease tolerance so you don’t need to worry too much about mould and mildew.
- Sow seeds in April and May (spring) or from September to October (autumn).
- Doesn’t advertise what types of grass seeds the mix contains.
- Need to water a lot initially, even several times a day.
- Slow to germinate.
The Gro-Sure 300g Shady Lawn Seed comes in the smallest amount of any of the seeds in this review. With just 300g of seeds in the bag, you can overseed or fill in small areas of your garden that total up to 10m2. You need to sow the seeds in the spring or autumn and not in the summer. This ensures that the weather conditions are optimal for the grass to grow. These Gro-Sure seeds have a high disease tolerance so you won’t be stressed out by any mould and mildew that appears.
One downside, as we’ve mentioned, is that you don’t know what types of grass you are buying. However, the company states that this is medium-tough grass when it’s fully grown, so it is better not to grow this in a high traffic area.
In its initial growing stage, this grass needs lots of water, even several times a day. You need to keep a close eye on the soil conditions of the planted areas. The seeds can be slow to germinate, sometimes taking up to a month. The box information says that seedlings appear in 10 days. There’s the usual complaint that the seeds fail to germinate when some people have prepared the ground, sown the seeds, and looked after it, all according to the instructions. However, other factors can make germination less than perfect. Using compost either below or on the seeds will help the grass grow.
We recommend Gro-Sure 300g Shady Lawn Seed for those who want just a small amount of grass seed for minor repairs to grass in their shaded areas.
4. Green Velvet 525g Lawn Seed The Shady One
The Green Velvet Lawn Seed – The Shady One grows well in partial shade or in full shade. Not many other grass seeds make this pronouncement about full shade. These grass seeds can even handle the shade underneath large trees, even if the branches spread far out.
The Green Velvet grass seeds have improved tolerance to the usual lawn diseases so this saves you time in applying various treatments to try and prevent the diseases. The seeds are also very tolerant of drought areas so if your soil dries out a bit, the grass will be fine.
At 525g, the grass seed comes in a relatively small amount. This is convenient if have just minor repairs to make to the grass in your shaded areas, or if the shaded area itself is small.
- Grows well in full or partial shade for all your shady areas.
- Improved tolerance to regular lawn diseases so don’t worry too much about keeping your lawn perfectly healthy.
- Great performance under trees, even those that spread out a lot.
- Excellent tolerance in drought areas.
- Sow at any time from March to September, though the best results are if you sow your seed from March to May or September to mid-October.
- The box contains 525g of seed and covers 15m2 of ground.
- Expensive for the amount of seed.
- No information about what types of grass seeds the mix contains.
The Green Velvet 525g Lawn Seed The Shady One is a good choice if you don’t have much work to do to your shaded areas. The 525m2 box covers a combination of areas to a total of 15m2. This grass seed grows well in the full shade which is quite unusual. You need to decide in the spring or autumn if you want to sow these seeds because those are the optimal times for them to germinate.
There’s the usual complaint that the seeds didn’t germinate at all. However, some reviewers say that with a lot of patience, these seeds produce a lush green lawn. But the company doesn’t tell you what types of grass you’re going to grow. All you know is that you’re getting a “high quality lawn seed mix”.
The Green Velvet 525g Lawn Seed The Shady One is a good choice if you need grass to grow under your trees and you don’t want to buy a multi-kilogram bag of grass seed.
5. GoodGrow Hard Wearing Grass Seed
The toughness of GoodGrow Hard Wearing Grass Seed is right there in its name. It is hard-wearing and is suitable for play areas and well-used spaces. You can apply the seeds anytime from March to November. This gives you a long period to become tired of seeing the shaded bare patches and spontaneously decide to plant grass in them. The grass grows in 5 to 30 days so if you don’t see the seedlings for a while, don’t despair, just wait a bit longer and keep them well watered.
This GoodGrow grass seed grows in sunny as well as shaded areas. You can use this anywhere in your garden and not have to worry whether you’re sowing the right grass seed for the conditions. The grass types in the seed mix are 50% Double Lolium Perennial Rye Grass, 20% Troya Lolium Perennial Rye Grass, and 30% Maxima Festuca Strong Creeping Red Fescue. The various types of fescue grass are often found in grass seed mixes; ryegrass is also a popular grass for shaded garden spaces.
If you’re not an avid gardener, you’ll appreciate the well-explained instructions on the bag. If you need more advice, contact GoodGrow’s customer service team as they’ve received excellent reviews online.
- Grows in sunny areas as well as shady ones, so you can sow it anywhere.
- Creates new lawns and repairs existing ones for all your lawn needs.
- Comes in a 400g bag that covers 9m2 for new lawns and 16m2 for filling in bare or rough patches.
- Contains 50% Double Lolium Perennial Rye Grass, 20%; Troya Lolium Perennial Rye Grass, and 30% Maxima Festuca Strong Creeping Red Fescue.
- The grass germinates in 5-30 days so don’t be too impatient if you don’t see anything at first.
- Hard-wearing for play areas and well-used spaces.
- Apply the seed anytime from March to November.
- Good instructions on the bag for sowing the seeds and looking after the resulting grass.
- Good customer service so you can ask them questions if you’re worried at all about the growing process.
- Expensive for the amount of grass seed you get.
The GoodGrow Hard Wearing Grass Seed can create new lawns or repair existing grassy spaces in both sunny and shaded places. This multi-climate feature means that you only have to buy one kind of grass seed. The seed comes in a 400g bag that covers 9m2. This is not a large area so save this seed for special small areas and minor grass repairs. You can apply the grass seed in an eight-month window from March to November as long as there’s no frost.
Online reviewers state that this grass seed is expensive for the amount that you get, so use the GoodGrow grass seeds sparingly. There are the common complaints that the seeds take longer to germinate than the instructions say and, in some cases, the seeds didn’t germinate at all. There are a variety of reasons for this (see our Buyer’s Guide) other than the seeds are at fault.
If you have had trouble growing grass in shaded and well-used areas, the GoodGrow Hard Wearing Grass Seed may solve your problems. This could be the best grass seed for shady lawns.
Choosing between grass seed mixes for shaded areas is not always easy because most of the products here are very similar and do the same job. However, in this Buyer’s Guide we discuss the features that make a difference between brands.
Even though all the grass seeds in this Best Grass Seed for Shade review are suitable for shaded areas, not all shade is the same. These areas can be full shade, partial shade or dappled shade. The difference between them is the amount of sunlight they receive each day in the germination period.
Full shade gets an amount of sunlight that isn’t worth mentioning. Grass doesn’t usually grow here but consider plants that are very shade tolerant. Partial shade is in areas that receive sunlight for a few hours a day. Most types of grass for shaded areas need at least four hours of sun every day, but it can be indirect sunlight from any direction. Dappled shade is similar to partial shade but it’s the indirect light coming through the trees above.
The best grass types for shade include ryegrass and the various fescues (tall, fine and creeping red). Check the product reviews in this article to see what other grass is included in the products discussed here. Even though grass seed mixes are sold for generic “shade”, how you care for the shaded grass area is related to the amount of shade you have there.
What your garden needs
Most grass seed mixes are suitable for establishing a new lawn/patch of grass or fixing up bare spots in patches of grass. Consider if you want a full lush lawn-like coverage in your shady areas or if you’d be happy with just a patch of regular-looking grass. Choose your shaded area’s grass seed appropriately.
Your garden also needs you to prepare the ground according to the instructions on the grass seed bag or box. Follow the instructions carefully because not doing so may effect whether the seeds germinate or not. The same advice goes for sowing the seeds (in the correct density) and looking after them then and when the seedlings are first sown.
For all of the grass seed brands we review here, online reviewers have complained that their grass seeds didn’t germinate at all, partially germinated, or took longer to germinate than the instructions said. If you buy a bag of certified grass seed (see below) the high quality of the seeds has been verified by experts. It could be something that you did wrongly or didn’t do that affects the performance of the seeds.
Time and effort (yours)
You may spend most of your time and effort looking after your garden. How much extra do you want to spend looking after the grass under trees and along fences in the shade? It’s important to spend the same number of hours preparing the ground and applying the grass seeds in shaded areas as in sunny ones. It’s with the maintenance after the grass is grown that you may reduce your effort. Look for hard wearing grass combinations that need only regular watering and the occasional cutting. Some mixes are designed to keep weeds down which reduces your garden chores.
You buy grass seed by weight. You don’t have to buy large bags with many kilograms of seed in them. Some of the products reviewed here come in bags or boxes of less than 1kg. These are useful if you need to seed or repair smaller areas. If you need to fix large areas of your garden or many small areas, consider looking for bags that are 2kgs or more. Or check out if your chosen grass seed comes in bags of other sizes.
How big an area the bag or box of grass seed covers is usually given in the instructions. You need more seeds to grow a brand new lawn than you will if you’re filling in gaps in patchy grass or covering bare spots.
Be aware that the given weight of a bag or a box of grass seed doesn’t mean that the mix contains that amount of grass seeds. Some brands include filler such as chaff, dust, low-quality seeds and other undesirable materials. Read the contents of the mix to see if this is case. In brands that don’t give that information, you won’t know this, so read the reviews.
Also, be prepared to buy more seeds than you think you will need. Reviewers often state that, in order to see any results, they need to use more seed than manufacturers claim.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is the main certification body for agricultural and horticultural seeds. The organisation is responsible for checking seeds for purity and germination potential. Look for the DEFRA certification on the bags or boxes of grass seed that you buy – it’s usually on an attached tag.
The Forest Stewardship Council and the British Society of Plant Breeders also issue certificates attesting to the high quality of the grass seed. Any of these certifications give you confidence in the grass seed.
Can I grow grass in full shade?
If it’s completely dark where you want to have grass, then grass will not grow there. But if some sunlight gets through then you can grow grass in shade as long as there are around four hours of sun per day. Use varieties of grass seed mix that are tolerant of shade. Mixes containing red fescue are popular for shaded areas. Some seed mixes don’t tell you what’s in them so you have to take a chance when buying grass seed labelled for shady areas.
How do you grow grass in full shade?
Instructions to grow grass in the shade are usually (but not always) found on the seed bag or box or on the manufacturer’s website. Always follow these instructions for preparing the ground, applying the seed and watering that area. Be careful about the time of year you sow the seeds. One of the reasons that grass seeds fail to germinate is that people don’t do what they’re supposed to in preparing the ground, applying the seeds and looking after them.
Some shady grass seeds need to be applied in spring or autumn and others can be applied between spring to autumn, so be sure which period you can plant your grass seeds in.
What type of grass is best for shady areas?
Ryegrass and tall and fine fescues are the most shade tolerant, along with Red Fescue. Grass seeds for shady areas are usually a mix of different types of seed. Check the packet or the company’s website to find out what a particular mix contains. Some brands don’t include this information or they just say, “grass seed mix”. In this case, as long as you’re buying grass seed for shady areas, you’ll have to trust that it’s a good mix of seeds.
Check out the product reviews here to find out what other types of grass seed are in the mix.
In this Best Grass Seed for Shade review, we’ve looked at grass seeds for all kinds of shaded areas, including the best grass seed for under trees. The Buyer’s Guide identifies the features that distinguish the different brands of grass seeds. Decide what the conditions in your shaded areas are and pick the appropriate grass seed to give you the grass you desire.
Our Best Pick overall is the Gardeners Dream Shady Lawn Grass Seed. This mix produces low-maintenance grass that has fine blades and looks ornamental.
Ivisons Shaded Area Lawn Grass Seed is our Runner-up selection. It’s a tough, low growing grass that’s suitable for busy areas.
If you’re also looking for grass seed for sunny areas, check out our Best Grass Seed review.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API