Replacing Turf in Heavily Shaded Areas

Virtually every large property will have a portion of turf in a heavily shaded area. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal growing condition for any plant, including grass.

Turf plays a vital visual and practical role in your property and replacing dead or dying turf is not a luxury – it is a necessity.

Dangers of Dead Turf

Allowing turf to die in shaded areas can not only ruin the aesthetics of your property, but can also lead to more serious issues like:

  • Poor drainage: Turf is not only a visually appealing staple of public and private outdoor spaces in Canada, it also plays an important role in drainage by absorbing excess water and preventing it from running or standing.
  • Erosion: Turf roots cling to the soil, holding it in place even during the heaviest downpours. Turf also prevents erosion by slowing running water and stopping standing water from stagnating over time.
  • Property damage: One of the most damaging consequences of erosion is that it can (literally) undermine the foundation of buildings on your property. Left unchecked erosion caused by poor drainage and lack of soil retention can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Replacing Turf

Replacing turf in heavily shaded areas is important to the overall wellbeing of your property. But what exactly should you replace it with?
Grass loves the sun, there is no way around that. There are no species that can be said to thrive in shaded areas, but some do cope better than others, and there are techniques that you can use to help your turf grow hardier.

There are grasses that are hardier and better able to tolerate limited sun exposure, including:

  • Fine fescue
  • Tall fescue
  • Rough bluegrass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass.

At Garden Grove Landscape Management, our team has the expertise to understand the species of grass that is ideal for the unique sun exposure levels across your property.
Alternatives to Grass

Even the hardiest grasses generally require at least 50% sunshine to survive. To achieve this our team may recommend frequent trimming and pruning of trees, shrubs, and other plants on your property. Coupling this with techniques like adjusting levels of fertilizers, increased aeration, different mowing patterns, and less frequent watering will all help keep shaded turf alive.

Depending on the cause of shade on your property there may be nothing to be done  to reduce shaded areas, and in such cases, there are two options: continuously plant and replace new turf, or look for alternatives to turf.

Ground cover plants like ivy, lily of the valley, pachysandra, periwinkle, cotoneaster, and others are sometimes used as alternatives for covering areas that are inhospitable to turf. Alternatively, your landscape team may opt to use different forms of ground cover such as mulch, or river pebble. An elegant rock garden is also a great way to cover a shaded area.

These alternatives also provide the drainage advantages that turf offers, and limit erosion in a similar manner.

Replacing turf in heavily shaded areas will improve your property visually and functionally. The thought of replacing your turf may not be your first choice, but there are many worthy alternatives with which to replace your shade-deprived turf. Talk to our expert landscapers for their advice on keeping the shaded areas of your property in good shape.



Written by Paul Lammers

Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at or 1-866-996-1099.