Shade Tolerant Does Not Mean Shade Thriving

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May through the end of August is an optimum time to install warm season turf. The warm season turf group includes Bermuda and Zoysia. Here are some tips and guidelines if you are planning to do some installation.

All warm season turf requires adequate sunlight to thrive. There are more shade tolerant types BUT “shade tolerant” does not mean they do well in shade conditions. The key is they require minimum levels of FULL sunlight with SOME shade. Even the most shade tolerant of the group, Tif Grand Bermuda, requires at least 6 hours of direct sun to adequately grow. When any of these turf types are installed in conditions with less than 6 hours full sun they tend thin severely.

These warm season turf types are sodded, not seeded, with one exception. Zenith zoysia, a coarser textured zoysia, can be seeded and there is seed derived sod available.

Zeon is the most shade and variable condition tolerant zoysia (Note: this is Zeon not Zenith) and Tif Grand is the most shade tolerant bermuda. As shade becomes heavier they tend to thin but usually do not fade completely. In conditions where you have low winter sunlight, the turf will tend to melt away and will not recover to any extent until mid July. All the other zoysia types require a minimum of 6 hours full sun or they will thin, languish and eventually completely fade away.

For full sun conditions, any of the other hybrid bermudas or zoysias are suitable but they all have very different growth characteristics. Before installing any of these turf types visit a property were they are established. Be sure to see the turf in April/May, July/August and then in December to see how they grow and look at different times of the year.

Do not believe all the hype about any of these grasses. They all have limitations and none of them are the end-all be-all Cat’s Meow! That silk purse in July may turn into the sow’s ear in winter and spring.

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