Living with Sun and Shade

Path Grass ShadeIt is difficult to gauge how much sunlight an area receives, so the only method of working it out is to watch the area during the day and find out which direction it faces. Areas facing North & East are better than areas facing West & South.


Sir Walter” requires a minimum 3 hours of quality sun, that is between the hours of 9am – 3pm, outside these times more sunlight is required. Morning sun is more valuable than afternoon because it is more intense. Building shade is worse than tree shade because it keeps the ground temperature down.


Tree shade is also very hard to gauge as the foliage of the tree determines the amount of light let in and often a pruning of any low limbs will help with establishment of the new lawn. Shallow rooted and surface roots of trees are also a problem as the tree is established and therefore can be overpowering robbing the lawn of valuable moisture and nutrients. To combat this we suggest that at least 100mm or more of soil is placed over any exposed roots or if possible cut out some of the problem roots.


Palm trees ( especially Golden Canes) have a very aggressive root structure and commonly cause lawns to fail, this problem can be over come by digging a trench around the base of the palm about 1 metre out, down about 300mm to cut off these roots, then put a good amount of soil down before laying, this gives the lawn an equal start. So when around palms, extra watering may be necessary to feed both lawn and palm.


South sides of buildings generally have a situation where in middle of winter there is no sun for about 6 weeks, and then in summer it receives full sun for a couple of months. In this area “Sir Walter” has proven to be successful because over the year it has received enough units of sunlight.


Wear & Tear if your area receives light use it should be okay, however if you plan to use this area for kids then you need more hours of sunlight to allow for the lawn to recover(4-5hrs) and if there are dogs then at least 5-6 hours of sunlight.


There are a number of vital points to remember about shady conditions which can make the difference between failure and success.


  • Scalping is one of the worst things to do, that is where the mower is set too low or the undulation of the ground causes the mower to cut in and remove all of the green foliage.
  • The height of the lawn in shade is critical, the more shade the higher the height of the lawn 75-100mm is common.
  • Mowing in shady areas causes a major setback in the condition of the lawn and therefore should only be done 4-6 weeks in summer and maybe not at all during winter. Don’t mow your lawn just to pick up leaves, this causes stress and takes a while to recover.
  • Over fertilizing in shady areas burns off all new growth, so only fertilize when lawn is losing colour not when it is thinning out as this is most likely to be from lack of light. Lawn in shade requires less fertilizer than an area that is in full sun, the same applies for water.
  • Over watering prevents oxygen from reaching the root zone, so only water when lawn is not moist. Poor drainage causes the soil to become stagnate, soil should be able to breath.
  • Lawn grubs like moist, damp and fertile areas and therefore shady areas are prone to attacks, so watch carefully with a new lawn.
  • If your lawn is thinning out and it is green, moist, lawn grub free, minimal wear and tear & has not suffered a major setback then most likely cause is the lack of light.


Sir Walter is an excellent lawn for shady areas, here are a few tips to help:

  • Ensure your lawn does get some filtered light.
  • If you have it growing under trees don’t let any leaf litter build up, make sure you remove the leaves so the blades can get any available light.
  • You may find that in winter the grass thins out a little bit and that’s perfectly normal.
  • Reduce the traffic flow in the shady areas, keep that right down to a minimum because that may wear the grass out.
  • Follow a good lawn maintenance program.

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