Before adding sod to your yard, it’s essential that you assess the amount of sunlight that will reach the grass in each area of the yard. For this, you need to understand the various criteria for judging light levels, and how those light levels impact the sod.
Full sunshine usually means eight to nine hours of sun directly on the yard. Between sunrise and sunset there is no relief to the unrelenting sunshine. There are no trees to filter the sunlight at all.
This is considered to be approximately six hours of sunshine partially obscured by trees or other thin foliage. It could also mean less than six hours of sunshine unfiltered by any shade. Side yards usually have light shade since the house can block some of the sunshine.
Partial shade means that the sun is filtered through trees or other foliage for eight hours a day. It could also mean that the yard is in direct sunlight for less than four hours. Backyards with many trees are usually yards that are considered partial shade.
This means the sun is always filtered through some kind of foliage, or it’s direct in the yard less than three hours per day. Yards that are filled with trees are considered shaded.
Shade from a dense tree or between buildings will make it impossible for grass to grow. Dense shade means no sun reaches the ground at all.
Grasses that grow in full sunshine often will not grow in very shady areas. The grass can become patchy when the yard has areas of dense or heavy shade along with areas with full sunshine.
This type of grass will grow in extreme temperatures as well as full sunshine to light shade. It will not grow well in partial shade or extremely damp, boggy soils. The sod is strong and dense making it easy to cultivate. It’s a cool season grass so it does well in the winter.
Fine Fescue is another cool season grass that grows well in the shade and is very tolerant of drought. It does not require much fertilizer, but doesn’t stand up to heavy foot traffic. It’s great partially shady areas as well as being perfect for acidic soils.
St. Augustine Grass
This warm season grass has a high tolerance for both shade and full sunlight depending on the cultivar. Sevill and Captiva can handle five to six hours of full sunshine.
It’s important to note that each section of yard needs different irrigation and fertilizer applications. Grass growing in the shade needs less water than grass in full sunshine. Take that into consideration when installing grass.
Not only is it essential that grass in each area is treated differently, the grass growing in shady area has added stress that should be monitored. The grass growing in light shade is often fighting with trees and bushes for root space. Tree roots can spread far into the lawn, so remember that if problems start to arise.
Trey Palmer is the owner of Palmer’s Turf Nursery, a Tennessee sod farm since 1994.