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Shade Tolerance of grass types

Cool season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue & Rye
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gm560
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Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:45 am

Hey Guys. Hoping someone out there might be an NTEP results expert that could possibly answer a question I have had for a while. I have reviewed some NTEP results (as well as the ones parsed by SSS), especially in the area of shade tolerance. I understand the conventional wisdom is KBG does not like shade. In shade you should probably go the route of tall fescue, or even fine fescue as they are more shade tolerant. However one cultivar in particular, which I included in my fall reno, Mazama, appears to have the same or even superior shade scores to many fine fescue varieties. Am I looking at these correctly? Are the numbers between grass types apples to apples? Are there other factors (like competing with trees for water) that makes fine fescue superior in real life shady lawns, or can I expect Mazama to be the miracle grass it appears to be by the numbers.

Mazama stat sheet at SSS:
https://www.seedsuperstore.com/stat-she ... @ss-mazama

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Movingshrub » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:18 am

I'd asked a similar question in May and didn't really get much traction.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2810

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by j4c11 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:36 am

I don't know that you can compare scores across grass types and draw any meaningful conclusion. For example, a Bermuda cultivar which gets a drought tolerance score of 6 will still beat the carp out of a fescue cultivar with a drought tolerance score of 9 in the summer heat.

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gm560
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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:14 am

j4c11 wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:36 am
I don't know that you can compare scores across grass types and draw any meaningful conclusion. For example, a Bermuda cultivar which gets a drought tolerance score of 6 will still beat the carp out of a fescue cultivar with a drought tolerance score of 9 in the summer heat.
Ok thats exactly what I was looking for. So the score is relative to its peers (it other cultivars of the same type) vs absolute across all grass types.

Dang... I was hoping Mazama would be as good as FF in the shade, but guessing that is likely a pipedream.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:54 am

gm560,

I wouldn't give up too easy. I've had luck with getting some Bewitched to grow to some extent in fairly dense shade, including under Red maples and a Norway maple. I'm considering trying Mazama to try to thicken up the turf, since it rates better than the BW. I know my FF will always outcompete the kbg in the extremely dense shade areas, but I'm trying to push the kbg as much as I can. If I have the time next year, I'll thin a few branches and spoonfeed with urea to try to get more N uptake in the root system before the maples suck it up. I might even try some foliar feedings, but my work schedule is heavy during the growing season, so that is probably a pipe dream.

Good luck!

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:36 am

Chris LI wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:54 am
gm560,

I wouldn't give up too easy. I've had luck with getting some Bewitched to grow to some extent in fairly dense shade, including under Red maples and a Norway maple. I'm considering trying Mazama to try to thicken up the turf, since it rates better than the BW. I know my FF will always outcompete the kbg in the extremely dense shade areas, but I'm trying to push the kbg as much as I can. If I have the time next year, I'll thin a few branches and spoonfeed with urea to try to get more N uptake in the root system before the maples suck it up. I might even try some foliar feedings, but my work schedule is heavy during the growing season, so that is probably a pipe dream.

Good luck!

I won't give up easy, that is for sure. I put down a mix of Bewitched, Mazama, and Everglade this fall in my front. I got pretty good coverage in the shaded area, but it is definitely thinner than in the full sun spots. There are three spots that are specifically very thin. Those spots are under shade trees... but they are also coincidentally the exact spots where rain tends to pool up during/following heavy rains, which were plentiful during my reno this year. I am thinking those thin/bare spots are more attributable to the excess water, than to the shade, although they likely are not totally uncorrelated.

I am attempting to do what I can to address the drainage over the winter/early spring. This weekend was particularly warm
so I put down Next Air8 at the 9oz rate. Then I put down some granular gypsum. Hopefully this will address any drainage/compaction issues in the soil.

The spots are also a little lower than the rest of the lawn. When preparing the seedbed for my reno I leveled the area as best I could with mushroom compost, mason sand and top soil, but I think some of that stuff was eroded before the roots could establish to keep it in place. My plan is to progressively add the same leveling mix on a weekly basis to see if I can build it back up. I also planted a temporary raised bed with the same KBG mix that I could harvest for plugs. I think I will use some of those plugs in the bare spots to hopefully anchor in the new soil from erosion, and also fill in the spot come spring time.

Am I missing anything?

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:39 am

Should mention, I also picked up some T-nex for next season. Some research I did (ill see if I can find the link) is that some golf managers have found it helps improve the thickness of KBG in the shade.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:50 pm

You've definitely got it covered (and are giving me some ideas-Thanks).

If your puddles under the trees don't cover too much area, you could try a "drill and fill" technique, where you use a 12" long auger bit in your drill (3/4"-1.5" dia. bit) and fill the holes with sand. It's used by sports turf/GC mgrs. as well as arborists (in urban areas, especially). This may benefit both the turf and trees. Also, I should be taking my own advice and try this under my maples.

It sounds like you're up for a challenge, as I am. I always find myself in a position to grow grass under adverse conditions. Thanks for your ideas.

On a side note, I'm looking for an aggressive kbg cultivar to mix in and establish into the less densely shaded areas, with the hopes that it will thicken up the turf stand, where possible. I know Emblem is no longer available, but I'm looking at Beyond and any other alternatives.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:29 am

Yup, funny you mention drill and fill. I just picked up this bad boy:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013 ... UTF8&psc=1

For $5, can't beat it. Funny it is so poorly reviewed.... probably why it is so cheap. It is drilling into the soil like butter.

I am not really sure how to gauge the aggressiveness of cultivars outside of the brand marketing materials. Have you looked at some of the America types? I looked hard at Blue Note for my mix, but was scared off by the lighter color vs the other very dark cultivars I selected. But the stats on Blue Note look pretty darn good, especially in our region.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:00 pm

Thanks for the info...Gotta love Amazon...it was $5 and change a few hours ago as an "add on". I put it in my cart and looked for some other options. I just looked at my cart and it's $25 Prime. I even reloaded your link with the same results. Oh, well. Thanks for the link. I'll keep looking around. Harbor Freight has a three pack which I might try for $20 (1/2", 3/4", 1" dia.).

As far as America types, I thought Beyond was one of them, but can't find where I read that info. Anyway, it's listed as an aggressive type and has good color. I was also leery about the lighter color of Blue Note.

I'm still trying to figure out what to order in my next blend. I have plenty of Bewitched, and want to order some straight Mazama which I will use together in shady areas; possibly with Beyond to compete with tree roots, since it has some shade tolerance. I would use all three of them with probably Prosperity and Midnight or Everlade in sunny areas. I just don't want to drop a ton of $ on seed. If I had the money, I would order them all separately and custom mix them for appropriate usage for each area of the yard. I'm hoping that Beyond would help in my high traffic areas.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:34 pm

Chris LI wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:00 pm
Thanks for the info...Gotta love Amazon...it was $5 and change a few hours ago as an "add on". I put it in my cart and looked for some other options. I just looked at my cart and it's $25 Prime. I even reloaded your link with the same results. Oh, well. Thanks for the link. I'll keep looking around. Harbor Freight has a three pack which I might try for $20 (1/2", 3/4", 1" dia.).
Sucks. $25 is more like how the other auger bits are priced. When I saw that one for $5, I figured I found a glitch in the matrix and jumped on it fast.
Chris LI wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:00 pm
As far as America types, I thought Beyond was one of them, but can't find where I read that info. Anyway, it's listed as an aggressive type and has good color. I was also leery about the lighter color of Blue Note.
I think it is a Midnight type (link).
Chris LI wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:00 pm
I'm still trying to figure out what to order in my next blend. I have plenty of Bewitched, and want to order some straight Mazama which I will use together in shady areas; possibly with Beyond to compete with tree roots, since it has some shade tolerance. I would use all three of them with probably Prosperity and Midnight or Everlade in sunny areas. I just don't want to drop a ton of $ on seed. If I had the money, I would order them all separately and custom mix them for appropriate usage for each area of the yard. I'm hoping that Beyond would help in my high traffic areas.
From my experience in pots Mazama was slow to establish. In the lawn, my front mix (Bewitched, Mazama, Everglade) was much slower and is still much thinner than the back mix (Midnight, Bewitched, Bedazzled). Not sure how much of this has to do with growing conditions and how much is due to cultivar selections (bedazzled known to be more aggressive, too).

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Scagfreedom48z+ » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:26 pm

Not trying to hijack this thread but I’ve been following this thread because I also have areas where shade is a factor, along with moisture. Would you say that Midnight, bewitched and bedazzled would be a better bet for outcomes in those conditions?

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:35 pm

Even though kbg does not do well in shade, Bewitched has very good shade tolerance for kbg, and has done fairly well in my mostly shaded areas.

Midnight is not good at all in shade as NTEP ratings have shown, but I don't have any personal experience trying to grow it in shade. I would however, use it in sunny areas.

Bedazzled is a water sipper and is a recommended cultivar from a water conservation board (something Alliance, but I forget the name, offhand). I have no experience growing it, but know it's color is lighter than both Bewitched and Midnight. I've heard some guys complain that it stands out too much against their other elite kbg cultivars.

I would try Mazama, as it seems to have an even greater shade tolerance than Bewitched. You could blend them together, so you're not susceptible to the risks of a monoculture.

Most of us cringe at the mention of Poa Trivialis and spend way too much time trying to kill it. However, if you have a wet, soggy mud pit in a section of your yard. It might be your only option as a last resort. If you go that route, you will have it spread throughout your yard. It's pretty much a nuclear option and I wouldn't suggest it if you had any desire to have an elite kbg lawn anywhere near it. I would pursue many other avenues first: pruning trees, regrading, installing drainage, etc.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Scagfreedom48z+ » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:45 pm

Chris LI wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:35 pm
Even though kbg does not do well in shade, Bewitched has very good shade tolerance for kbg, and has done fairly well in my mostly shaded areas.

Midnight is not good at all in shade as NTEP ratings have shown, but I don't have any personal experience trying to grow it in shade. I would however, use it in sunny areas.

Bedazzled is a water sipper and is a recommended cultivar from a water conservation board (something Alliance, but I forget the name, offhand). I have no experience growing it, but know it's color is lighter than both Bewitched and Midnight. I've heard some guys complain that it stands out too much against their other elite kbg cultivars.

I would try Mazama, as it seems to have an even greater shade tolerance than Bewitched. You could blend them together, so you're not susceptible to the risks of a monoculture.

Most of us cringe at the mention of Poa Trivialis and spend way too much time trying to kill it. However, if you have a wet, soggy mud pit in a section of your yard. It might be your only option as a last resort. If you go that route, you will have it spread throughout your yard. It's pretty much a nuclear option and I wouldn't suggest it if you had any desire to have an elite kbg lawn anywhere near it. I would pursue many other avenues first: pruning trees, regrading, installing drainage, etc.
Yes POA T is definitely the evil enemy here. We have also gotten an insane amount of rain here in mass the last couple of years in the fall and spring. We’ve been living in the house for only 2 years so it’s hard to gauge. It’s get a fair amount of sun once the days get longer. To be fair, it also hasn’t been aerated like it should be either. With the Reno this year, it’s going to get heavily aerated and topsoil will added to hopefully level it.

I’ve been reading this thread and I’m starting to lean toward what you are saying using KBG especially Mazama and bewitched. The dark green color is claims to have is also something that has caught my eye.

Would you mix it with any other type of tttf?
Last edited by Scagfreedom48z+ on Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:15 pm

Sure. I renovated a section of my yard with a TTTF shade blend from SSS a couple of years ago (3-way). You could make a custom mix with 80% TTTF with 10% Mazama and 10% Bewitched.

It was my first full reno and I didn't want to risk a failure of kbg, so I went with the TTTF. Also, I wanted to see what it would look like without any kbg. I've subsequently overseeded with more TTTF and Bewitched.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Scagfreedom48z+ » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:12 pm

Chris LI wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:15 pm
Sure. I renovated a section of my yard with a TTTF shade blend from SSS a couple of years ago (3-way). You could make a custom mix with 80% TTTF with 10% Mazama and 10% Bewitched.

It was my first full reno and I didn't want to risk a failure of kbg, so I went with the TTTF. Also, I wanted to see what it would look like without any kbg. I've subsequently overseeded with more TTTF and Bewitched.
How was your outcome with the mix?

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Chris LI » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:33 pm

The reno from Sept. '16 came out satisfactorily, but not to the standards we lawn nuts aspire to reach. However, the following year at the end of October of '17 (basically after the growing season), my brother-in-law buried the RV in the photos next to the sidewalk.

If the order of the photos uploads correctly, you should see three photos from 2/6/18, when a contractor we hired drove his Suburban up over the location and parked his trailer without authorization over that spot the day after a 1"+ rainfall and caused more ruts. Needless to say, he got no tip!

The good photo is from 6/12/18, when it looked it's best after growing in after the devastation.

Image

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by Scagfreedom48z+ » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:08 pm

Wow that rehabbed really well! Your first 2 pics made me cringe!

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by iowa jim » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:47 am

Scagfreedom48z+ wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:12 pm
Chris LI wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:15 pm
Sure. I renovated a section of my yard with a TTTF shade blend from SSS a couple of years ago (3-way). You could make a custom mix with 80% TTTF with 10% Mazama and 10% Bewitched.

It was my first full reno and I didn't want to risk a failure of kbg, so I went with the TTTF. Also, I wanted to see what it would look like without any kbg. I've subsequently overseeded with more TTTF and Bewitched.
How was your outcome with the mix?
I don't know if i can help much but i did a reno last August with midnight 50%, bewitched 25% mazama 25%. You can't tell any color difference in them, although the bewitched was a little bit lighter in the beginning it will catch up. As far as shade the mix has done well, i have some moderate shade but on the east side of my house i have a spot that only gets about 2 hours of sun at the most and is a little bit thin there. Its growing well underneath a crab tree in the front and a weeping willow in the back. I also have cotton woods right on my property line and its doing fine. Its a young lawn but I'm confident that it will thicken up this year. You can look up my thread and it will show you some progression pics of my reno.

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Re: Shade Tolerance of grass types

Post by gm560 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:00 am

I did a ton of research on shade tolerant KBG, which lead me to Bewitched and Mazama. According to NTEP it looks like Mazama is now regarded as the most shade tolerant KBG cultivar. That crown used to be held by Bewitched. The good thing is they are two different classifications (America and Compact, respectively), and both dark in color (rare for an America Type) so they should blend well together. My hope was that including them in my front yard mix (I have some mature maples) would help me deal with some moderately shady areas. In this mix I also included Everglade, a midnight type that is not as highly regarded in the shade. My long term plan is, if the KBG can not deal with the shade after this season and is not establishing well by fall, I will overseed it with either fine fescue or more likely some shade tolerant tall fescue varieties. But I am really hopeful it will not come to that.

I chose to use Bedazzled only in my backyard mix, for reasons Chris mentioned. It is known for being drought tolerant and pretty aggressive. This is where my kids play, so lower inputs and better recovery from wear was my goal. I do not have the same issue with shade in the back, so shade tolerance was not a consideration.

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