Bermuda grass, a fast-growing grass variety, is among the most preferred turfgrass species out there. Its ability to spread fast, and survive in any kind of soil is exceptional. However, to grow well, there are certain conditions it requires, and sunlight is one of them.
Therefore, if your lawn is shaded, and you wish to grow Bermuda there, the most important question for you right now might be – Will Bermuda grass grow in the shade? In this post, we will be answering the same.
Sunlight is one of the most crucial factors that helps Bermuda grass grow and spread fast. Since this warm-season grass requires plenty of sunlight, it cannot grow in shade. It will need at least 7 hours a day of full sunlight to flourish on a lawn. Even the shaded areas in your lawn due to trees and buildings might not be the best place to grow Bermuda. That being said, now there are varieties of Bermuda that can flourish in shade. However, they still need 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.
What Are the Sunlight Requirements for Growth of Bermuda Grass? Will Bermuda Grass Grow in the Shade?
It is important to look at the sunlight requirements of the grass variety. As you know, Bermuda is not very tolerant of shade. It has specific sunlight requirements that if not met, can hinder the growth of the grass variety significantly. So, how much sunlight does Bermuda grass require?
A straightforward answer to it is – at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. While there is nothing called too much sunlight in the case of Bermuda, sunlight less than this can affect the turfgrass variety to a great extent. It can result in poor and retarded growth, and even make the grass susceptible to diseases. The importance of sunlight for Bermuda grass can be known from the fact that it is well known for its tolerance to drought and heat during summer.
The grass has a high sunlight requirement, and due to this, cannot grow well in shaded areas where sunlight cannot reach. To sum up, the growth and development of Bermuda are dependent on the duration of light per day should be at least 4 hours even for Bermuda varieties that survive in shade. Some such shade-tolerant Bermuda varieties include Zoysia and Ryegrass.
How Will Shade Affect Your Bermuda Grass?
Bermuda is not the best grass type that grows in the shade. Growing the turfgrass in such an area with low light will only result in its poor growth and condition. So, if your lawn has a dense canopy around it or is shaded by a building, it means that there is sure to be long hours of shade on your turf. So, you may want to reconsider growing Bermuda grass in it.
Here is how not enough access to sunlight can affect your Bermuda grass:
It Can Result in Thinning of The Lawn
Due to the lack of sunlight, Bermuda will experience reduced photosynthesis that can result in its reduced lateral growth. It means that the turfgrass will start to thin out in shade. Further, thinning out of Bermuda means there will be space for the sprouting of unwanted weeds like quack grass, crabgrass, and dandelions.
It Can Cause Abnormally Elongated Stems
If Bermuda grass gets less than 60% full sunlight, it can result in abnormally elongated stems. Not just this, in low light conditions under the shade, the same is the case with the leaves and internodes of the grass variety.
It Can Make Bermuda Susceptible to Diseases
Another effect of shade on Bermuda grass is its reduced tolerance to disease. A Bermuda grass lawn that does not get enough light is most likely to suffer from a variety of grass diseases ranging from fungal infections to root problems and moss.
If you are wondering why this happens, it is due to humidity. The grass in the shaded areas stays moist as the dew settles on its leaves for longer hours. On the other hand, in the areas that are exposed to sunlight, dew evaporates fast, and there is no such issue.
Are There Any Shade Tolerant Bermuda Grass Varieties?
While Bermuda needs a minimum of 7 hours a day of full sunlight to flourish in a lawn, there are some varieties of it with which the case is not the same. There are some shade-tolerant varieties of Bermuda that need only four hours of sunlight to survive and thrive on a lawn. Such an example of it is the celebration of Bermuda grass. Let us tell you why.
As per some studies, grasses that have thin leaves, can survive and grow well even under shady conditions. In comparison to coarser leaf varieties, grasses that have finer leavers are found to be more shade tolerant. It means that finer the grass blades, there will be more leaves per square inch that leaves more surface area for capturing sunlight. Celebration Bermuda appears to have this kind of finer leaves.
Since there are more leaves per square inch of an area, they can capture more sunlight, and perform their life functions like photosynthesis better. This leads to a denser turf structure. That being said, while celebration Bermuda is said to tolerate reduced light better, there are no proven facts about the same. Also, even shade-tolerant Bermuda species need a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight to grow well.
Some Shade-Resistant Alternatives for Bermuda Grass
As stated above, even if you get a shade-tolerant Bermuda variety for your lawn, you need to ensure it meets its sunlight requirement to grow well and thrive. In such a case, it is better to look for the best grass type that grows in a shade other than Bermuda. Luckily, there are numerous options for the grasses that can grow well even without direct sunlight.
One such example is Ryegrass. It is great for a lawn that mostly remains shaded. Tall and fine fescue are also great options for you if you need cool-season grass that can grow well in shaded areas. However, if you are looking for warm-season lawn grass that serves the same purpose, you can go with Palmetto St. Augustine grass.
This grass variety can thrive well even in adverse soil and climate conditions. Be it drought, shade, or even low temperatures, it can survive in them. Another grass variety with great resistance to shade is a fine-bladed turf grass variety known as GeoZoysia.
Along with growing well in shade, it also offers great color, thereby giving the lawn an excellent visual appeal. While you can choose these grass varieties, some lawn owners prefer Bermuda over them. In such a case, you can only find out ways for letting the grass thrive even under low-light conditions.
Tips to Grow Bermuda Grass Under Shade
We hope the above sections gave you a clear answer for whether Bermuda grass grows in the shade or not. Now, let us help you find out how you can grow Bermuda best under the shade. While Bermuda grass that stays under a canopy most of the time can be challenging to grow, there are some tips you can follow to make it grow well.
Have a look at what you can do to improve the development and vigor of Bermuda grass even under shade:
Trim Tall Trees and Canopies
The first thing you can do to ensure your Bermuda grass gets enough sunlight is prune trees and the canopy above and around it. By doing so, sunlight can penetrate easily to the grass thereby helping it grow and spread.
Mow The Grass Slightly Higher
The next thing you can do is mow the Bermuda grass in the shaded areas a but higher than the rest of the grass. This way, the grass in the shaded areas will be able to capture more sunlight leading to its growth.
Reduce Additional Stress
As it is, the grass in your lawn is not getting enough sunlight. Do not add to the stress on the shaded areas by parking things in front of it, and increasing the shade further. Make sure to reduce all the traffic near your lawn.
Feed The Soil with Nitrogen Fertilizer
The next tip we have for you today is feeding the lawn with enough fertilizer. While you do so, make sure not to overdo the fertilizer as it can lead to burning of the grass and even become more shade intolerant.
Test The Area
If you are yet to plant Bermuda on your shaded lawn, it is best to test the areas with a few plugs before doing so. This will help you determine whether or not the grass variety will survive there.
To conclude, a simple answer to “will Bermuda grass grow in the shade,” is “No.” If the area does not get its needed minimum sunlight requirement, Bermuda can’t grow healthily and spread well there. Even shade-tolerant Bermuda grass requires a minimum of 4-5 hours of direct sunlight to thrive.