If your yard contains a variety of shady, wet, and rocky areas, you know how tough it is to get grass to grow there. Some homeowners give up trying and cover those spots with wood chips, mulch, or a hardy ground cover, like ivy. If you're patient and want to put the time into it, though, you can get grass established in some of those difficult areas. Here are some tips for encouraging grass to take root in challenging spots.

Growing Grass in Shady Areas

A few tall shade trees in the yard can create enough shade to keep the grass underneath them from growing well. The trees are depriving the grass of two essential items—sun and water. Even the most hardy grass varieties need enough of both to grow and stay healthy. If you love a dense, tree-filled yard, you're limited to a ground-hugging plant, such as English ivy. If you're willing to sacrifice some of your shade, you can have some success with grass using the following tips:

  • Have a tree service prune the bottom branches of low-hanging trees to allow more air to circulate and sun to reach the ground.
  • Have the tree service also trim the canopies of the shade trees to let more sun come down. Sun filtered through a thinner canopy is still better than no sun hitting the ground.
  • Over-seed with a shade tolerant grass, such as a fine fescue or St. Augustine.
  • Keep the grass longer in shady areas. A couple of inches on a blade of grass provides more surface area for photosynthesis.
  • Pick up all grass clippings to let as much light as possible reach the ground.
  • Fertilize the grass in the shade half as much as the grass in full sun. Grass in the shade takes in the nitrogen at a much slower rate.
  • If the trees are so dense as to keep water from traveling into the ground, soak the area deeply each week.

Growing Grass in a Rocky Lawn

If your home was built on top of construction fill, rocks and gravel start to appear as the topsoil wears away. There's not much nutrition in this rocky soil for grasses to grow. You'll need to recondition the soil to give the grass the best growing conditions.

  1. Spread a layer of composted material several inches thick over the rocky soil.
  2. Till the material into the soil and water deeply.
  3. Spread a load of good topsoil on top of the area a couple of inches deep.
  4. Heavily plant a grass that does well in bad soil, such as Zoysiagrass or a fine fescue.
  5. In the fall, put down another layer of compost material that will break down during the winter and further enrich the soil.
  6. Over-seed the area again in the spring.
  7. Continue this cycle of compost in the fall and heavy seeding in the spring until the grass has become established in the area. This may take a few years.
  8. Once the grass has established itself, stop putting down the compost material layer and just fertilize the area when you treat the rest of the yard.

It's not impossible to grow grass in those difficult areas of your yard. If you're willing to put the effort into it, you can find the right combination of grass, sun, water, and soil nutrition to create a healthy, green yard. For further information, contact a professional from a business such as Advanced Arbor Care.