A question for the gardeners out there (growing grass in shady spaces)

aussie backyard scene in winter

I need some gardening advice...

I have a huge tree out the back of my place (supposedly, it's a desert ash) and it casts a lot of shade which means I have little grass growing out there.

The pic show what I mean.

Anyway, I'd like to grow grass there, but am hoping some of you have some tips on growing grass in shady places. Which type of grass, when to sow the seeds, and any prep I might have to do beforehand.

I'm new to this backyard stuff – haven't had one for years! So your help and advice will be much appreciated! 



Good for you Leon,  I love a nice garden and that looks like it has promise -- there are shade-loving grasses and they look great -- I had to get some for my garden,  have a look here  I got -- Sir Walter --  but show the photo and talk to the people about it -- good luck and let us see the results

Do not get artificial turf, it is bad for the environment




Thanks Plan B.

I have also been told red fescue is good for shady places. I have picked up a mix of that which has tall fescue, red fescue, couch, and perennial rye. I'll give that a try now, and once I have more light and space (I'm removing those sheds on the right) I may throw some buffalo on there as well!

I'll post results when I have them.

Thanks for the tip!

You can't go wrong with Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo  grass. Works for me.


Thanks for the tip Sophie – I'll look into that as well. 


Prep the ground properly before hand ensuring good drainage, use plenty of dynamic lifter before laying the turf, and, as mentioned above, choose the correct shade variety for your climate. Good luck.

I've just had a plumber arond to check the drainage. Definitely have a problem there. Clay underneath the soil and a couple of roofs worth of run-off contributing to it. I've been using soil wetta for a couple of months to try and break it up a bit, but I may need to 'lime it'? Not sure. Any advice appreciated. I've picked up a mix of shady grass – red fescue, tall fescue, perennial rye and couch. Hope it takes!

Thanks for the tips!

depending on the type of clay you have gypsum is the clay breaker of choice. You can also till and dig in compost. Grass is only shallow rooted so based on what I did on compacted clay next to a new build, I suggest:

scrap off any top soil then excavate next few inches and take to your compost heapput back the top soil and apply gypsum liberally to surface,bring in some new lawn soil and generously sprinkle some dynamic lifter or other slow releaselay new turf and water in, stay off it for two to three weeksgive it a squirt of seasol twice a year

Besides using the appropriate grass as mentioned by others, it should be determined that the cause is not insects, disease, or mis-management during moving and watering or the weather conditions causing fallen leaves to rot on the grass causing disease. Overseeding can help you recover the area with healthy blades of grass.

The tree looks as if it is more suitable for a park and seems to large for the yard.It has been pruned before in its adult life instead of being shaped when it was planted.

If it was my tree I would prune off the already pruned branches at the trunk.

Yes Suze, I'm concerned the tree is too big, But we love it so much and it is a real joy to sit under it in the summer. So much shade and great for Sunday afternoon picnic platters (and a beer or two).

I've had one arborist out, who has said he'd like to lift the canopy. I wonder if that means he'd take some of the limbs back to the trunk? I'll check.

It does rain leaves at the end of Autumn, but we're pretty good a getting them up quickly. Still, you may be on to something with the over-seeding. I started on that this weekend.

Thanks for the tips!

After a major plumbing job, we will be needing some new turf.

I spoke to Flower Power and they told me that Kakadu Buffalo would be the best for shady placed - BUT not to bother until late August or early September when the weather starts to warm up.

Any earlier, and I'd just be wasting my money!

Okay, so I have an update. We had the big Bougainvillea removed, pruned the jasmine back and lifted the canopy of my big lovely golden ash. The ground now has more light and sun. We then pitch-forked and turn the whole area up the back and replanted shady seed and some hardy seed. Then almost immediately after we sowed the sees, we copped an unexpected downpour, which flattened the soil and washed some seed away. Still, it looks like this. You can see some of the new grass and a bunch of the old grass already coming back. Thanks everyone for all their input. I can't wait to (hopefully) show you a bright green patch there some day soon!

soft leaf buffalo like Sir Walter is a go-to in this situation however more to the point is how you maintain the grass. It will struggle to repair itself from damage resulting in normal wear and tear due to lack of sunlight so it should be regarded primarily as suited to ornamental or occasional light use only. Ensure that the grass has good drainage and receives a regular light feed with seasol or similar so it is not competing with surface tree roots.


Good job, is that the dunny down at the far end? You'll have to put up a screen to hide it bro.

That looks like an ideal position for the clivias and now in bloom looking well ... any chance of a close up ?? 


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