From:Austin, TX Region: Southwest Topic: Turf Title: Sowing grass for shaded lawn in Texas Answered by: Nan Hampton
I'm renting a home for short period of time, hence I would like to make this as simple, but as beneficial as possible. The backyard soil is degraded and compacted so I would like to try and use a "bio-tiller"- ideally sow some native grass seed whose root system can loosen up the soil over time and also provide good ground cover. I have quite a bit of leaf litter that I can spread lightly as mulch over the seeds. I also have a pretty shaded yard with patches of sun here and there. I have read that inland sea oats do well in these conditions, though I do not know if the seeds will propagate in untilled soil. I am open to other suggestions, even something other than grasses- however I would prefer a perrennial because I am not sure if my successors will do much landscaping.
First, I am going to refer you to Planting Tips for Native Grasses, an excellent article by Native American Seed. You will see that they recommend removing any weeds or plantcover that exists in the area and then lightly tilling the soil before sowing the grass seeds. They also describe a method, solarization, for destroying existing vegetation. Removing existing vegetation and lightly tilling is the ideal way to sow your grass seeds and the method that will give the best results. However, since you are trying to avoid any mechanical tilling, you might be able to have some success by raking the surface to loosen some of the soil before sowing your seeds. It is absolutely imperative that the seeds are in contact with the soil. You might get some grass seeds to sprout without loosening the soil and then covering them lightly with your leaf litter; but to have real success, loosening the soil, sowing the grass seeds and then covering them lightly with the soil will ensure that you get a better yield for your seeds.
Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) is an excellent choice for shade and part shade. It is also a very attractive plant and reseeds itself. Here are some other grasses that will grow in shade and part shade:
You might also consider one of sedges. These are often available in local nurseries that specialize in native plants (see our National Suppliers Directory for a list in your area) as small plants, rather than as seeds. Here are a couple that do well in shade and part shade:
Growth of non-native bermudagrass in Snelville GA July 16, 2011 - How do you grow Bermuda grass successfully in the state of Georgia? Techniques in fertilization, lawn cutting and general maintenance. Thank you. view the full question and answer
Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa.
Thanks! view the full question and answer
Native grass lawn for San Antonio June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ... view the full question and answer
Las Vegas lawn grass for Dallas February 13, 2009 - Dear Smarty Plants,
Every time we go to Las Vegas I admire the beautiful grass in the lawns of most of the strip casinos. It looks like a fescue but it is just as beautiful on the hottest summer day... view the full question and answer
Seeding an established buffalograss lawn to make it denser May 13, 2010 - We have 5400 sq ft of existing Buffalo grass and would like to know if spreading Buffalo grass SEED would help the existing get more full? I can't seem to find the seed here or the Austin area? And, ... view the full question and answer