St. Augustine grass is arguably the most popular choice for lawns throughout the southern United States, and it displays a high shade tolerance when compared to most other varieties of grass. Of the different varieties (cultivars) of St. Augustine, the most shade tolerant includes Seville, Palmetto, and Bitter Blue.
These shade-tolerant cultivars also do well in direct sunlight, which is important for Central Florida lawns. These cultivars tolerate and persist in areas within a lawn with only 6-7 hours of sunlight. The most popular cultivar of St. Augustine, Floratam, needs at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day.
What to Do for Shady Florida Lawns
Many obstacles can cause shaded lawns. Probably the most obvious example would be tree coverage. These areas must compete with tree roots for space, soil, water, oxygen, and nutrients. Tree roots reach further than you’d expect, and sometimes the price of a healthy lawn is trimming the lower branches, or even removing the tree completely.
One thing to do for shaded lawns is to increase the mowing height to the highest recommended for the particular cultivar you have chosen. This method leaves more area on the grass blades to absorb sun.
Another caution for shaded areas is to ensure there is low foot traffic in the area. The softer and thinner grass can easily be devastated by constant disturbance.
While St. Augustine is a reasonably shade-tolerant species, its varieties can be ideal for certain landscapes. When you understand the options available to you, as well as the needs and demands of shade-tolerant grass, you will cultivate an attractive and healthy lawn.