Lawn shade and its impact on growth

Written by Ian Thompson

Ian holds a Masters in Turf Management from Sydney University, has over 20 years experience working as a golf course Superintendent, turf manager, product formulation and development. We call him our resident Lawn genius.

Shade poses unique challenges to maintaining a healthy lawn, including reduced sunlight and the resulting impact on turf growth. By combining the wisdom from James B. Beard’s “Turfgrass Science and Culture,1973”, and the use of modern sun-tracking apps like Sunseeker, lawn enthusiasts can effectively manage shade and promote thicker, healthier turf. In this article, we will explore the influence of shade on lawns, the benefits of blending traditional knowledge with modern technology, and how products can enhance shade management.


Understanding the Impact of Shade on Lawns

Shade diminishes the amount of sunlight available for photosynthesis, leading to weakened growth, thinning turf, and increased susceptibility to stress, diseases, and weeds. Addressing shade-related issues requires strategic planning and informed decisions based on the unique conditions of each lawn. Beard, 1973 lists the developmental responses by the turfgrass plant as:

  • Thinner leaves
  • Reduced leaf width
  • Increased leaf length and plant height
  • Reduced shoot density
  • Longer internodes
  • Reduced tillering
  • Reduced stem diameter
  • Reduced rate of leaves
  • More upright growth


Beard offers invaluable insights into the impact of shade on lawns and the selection of shade-tolerant turfgrass varieties. By integrating the knowledge from this timeless reference with modern apps like Sunseeker, homeowners can gain a deeper understanding of their specific shade patterns and optimize their shade management strategies.


The Benefits of Sun-Tracking Apps

Sunseeker and similar apps provide real-time visualisation of the sun’s path across the sky, empowering homeowners to identify areas of shade and sunlight in their yards. Armed with this information, lawn owners can strategically plan their lawn layout, adjust tree placement, and select appropriate shade-tolerant turfgrass varieties.


Products to help

Primo Maxx: Enhancing Shade Management:

Primo Maxx, a growth regulator product, plays a vital role in shade management. This chemistry affects nearly all of the developmental responses listed by Beard above and at low rates can actually improve a lawns tolerance to shade.


Chlorophyll improvement:

Both pigments and high iron fertilisers offer effective ways to enhance the appearance of your lawn, by adding these products you can increase the chlorophyll content in the plant and improve the lawns ability to absorb sunlight.


Lastly, these products are not miracle workers, whilst they can improve your lawns ability to handle lower light conditions they won’t allow your lawn to grow in the dark. So if your lawn isn’t seeing any sun then it may be time to trim some branches or consider tree removal, replacing it with a garden bed of low light loving plants.

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