8 Types of Grass That Grow Well in the Shade

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated June 9, 2022
A Buddha statue in a garden with fescue grass
Photo: David Madison / Stone / Getty Images

Your lawn will have it made in the shade

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You’re about to seed your lawn but are concerned about your yard’s low-light conditions. After all, most grass prefers sunnier spots. Fortunately, though, several varieties can thrive in the shade—as long as they receive at least two or three hours of direct sun or four to six hours of partial or dappled sun each day. 

For ideas on which types to plant, read on, keeping your climate category in mind. Of course, if you’re still feeling too green on the gardening front to decide, just opt for a grass seed mix designed for your level of sunlight.

Cool-Season

If you live in a northern part of the country, with freezing winters and hot summers, pick among these grasses. 

1. Fescue

Deep-rooted, these grasses are all-stars when it comes to tolerating foot traffic, heat, cold, and drought. Generally, they can thrive with as few as four hours of dappled sun. Look for Fine, Tall, Chewings, Hard, or Creeping Red varieties. Try to find fescue seed inoculated with the beneficial fungi endophytes, which helps grass stand up to pests and other environmental stressors.

2. Perennial Ryegrass

A greenfield of perrenial ryegrass
Photo: Minh Chung Bui / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Try this dark green grass in deep shade; just know that you’ll need to over-seed annually. Make sure the grass gets four hours of full sun daily.

3. Kentucky Bluegrass

This light green grass only needs four hours of dappled sunlight daily. Try the Saber, Glade, or BenSun varieties.

Warm-Season

If you live in the South, with growing season temperatures between 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, pick from these varieties. In most cases, you should start warm-season grasses as sprigs, plugs, or sod rather than seeds. 

4. St. Augustine

This medium-toned grass is ideal for lawns rather than high-traffic areas. Quite weed-resistant, it requires as few as four hours of direct sun daily. Try Sapphire, Bitter Blue, Palmetto, or Seville. 

5. Centipede

This coarse light-green grass mostly prefers full sunlight. But the Tennessee Hardy and Oaklawn varieties can thrive with just four to six hours of sunlight per day.

6. Zoysia

A smooth zoysia grass in a garden
Photo: Don't be so sure that world is wind till you've checked it out / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Requiring as few as three hours of direct sun daily, this dark-green grass thrives in medium shade. Since it can absorb water readily and handle drought, heat, and partial shade, it’s very popular.

7. Carpet

Go for the Broadleaf variety, which features wider blades and flourishes in the shade. Just make sure your area gets at least 30 inches of rainfall per year. 

8. Kikuyu

Growing quickly in shaded areas, this grass features a coarse texture. Drought-resistant, it usually turns brown in late November.

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