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All You Need to Know About Sun and Shade Grass Seed

Two lawn chairs on a sunny lawn.

Lawn grasses vary in the amount of sun they need to stay healthy, look great and perform well. Some types need full, direct sun all day to do their very best. That can be a problem when your landscape is a mix of sun and shade. Shade trees, shrubs and buildings all create shady areas that shift throughout the day and throughout the year. When parts of your yard get sun and shade, a versatile grass mix such as Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade can help you get outstanding results under both conditions.

Sun & Shade at a Glance

  • mix of superior cool-season grass varieties
  • ideal for sunny to moderately shady areas
  • excellent drought tolerance
  • improved disease and insect resistance
  • thick, fine-bladed, dark blue-green lawn


A sunny and shaded lawn

Sun levels in your lawn change throughout the day and year.

Best Grasses for Sun & Shade Lawns

When lawn professionals talk about full sun or moderate shade, they have specific amounts of sunlight in mind. "Full sun" describes lawn areas get eight or more hours of direct sun each day and the grasses that prefer those conditions. Medium or moderate shade areas receive four to six hours of direct daily sun. Grasses with moderate shade tolerance can handle those conditions well. Most lawn grasses will always welcome more sun, but not all types can tolerate lower light levels and still deliver a thick, beautiful lawn.

When your lawn runs the gamut from sunny areas to medium shade, you need a mix of lawn grasses that can do the same. By choosing a versatile mix of improved grass varieties such as those in Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade, you can create a lawn that thrives in four to eight hours of sun each day. Improved, purebred grass varieties developed through Pennington-affiliated grass breeding and research offer excellent drought tolerance, improved resistance to lawn disease and insect pests, and an attractive, finely textured, dark blue-green lawn in sun and shade conditions.

The turf-type tall fescue grasses that anchor Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade excel across a wide range of climates, including the country's challenging transition zone. Moderately shade-tolerant, these grasses flourish from your sunniest spots through medium shade. Smart Seed tall fescues bring more than shade tolerance to your lawn. With improved drought and heat tolerance, these water-conserving varieties require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grasses, year after year, for the life of your lawn.

The exceptional shade tolerance of fine fescues, such as creeping red fescue and Chewings fescue, complement tall fescue's versatility. A leading ingredient in grass seed mixes for shade, fine fescues tolerate shade better than any other common lawn grass. They add fine leaf texture, attractive color and durability as well. Sun-loving Kentucky bluegrass, called KBG in the trade, rounds out this mix. Smart Seed KBG varieties offer light shade tolerance and improved drought tolerance, along with dense, vigorous growth and the exceptional color that makes KBG a favorite.

When you purchase Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade at your local retailer, you get a mix of sun and shade grasses specifically formulated for your climate. This seed mix is customized for different regions, so you can buy with confidence and know the grasses inside are appropriate for your sun-and-shade lawn. For parts of your lawn that receive even less sun, turn to Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade. The grass varieties in that premium mix can tolerate just two to four hours of sun each day.

Buildings and plants affect the amount of sun and shade your lawn receives.

Buildings and plants affect the amount of sun and shade your lawn receives.

Basic Sun & Shade Lawn Care

The best time for planting the cool-season grasses in Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade is late summer to early fall when soil temperatures are in the range of 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The second best time for planting is early spring, when temperatures warm to that same optimal range. During these times of year, cool-season grasses experience their peak growth periods. Plant grass seed to take advantage of that natural cycle. Grass can germinate and establish more quickly and be prepared before the added stresses of winter or summer's arrival.

Established sun-and-shade lawns typically need about 1 inch of water per week from rain and irrigation combined. Shady areas generally need less water than sunny spots. Promote resilience and deep, healthy root growth by watering grass deeply and thoroughly. The superior, water-conserving Smart Seed varieties in Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade can stay green for up to three weeks without watering. You save labor and water, and your lawn stays healthy and green.

When mowing the grasses in Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade, never remove more than one-third of the blade height in a single mowing. Follow good mowing practices and mow often enough to maintain your grass at a height of 2 to 3 inches. During times of heat and low rainfall, increase that height to 3 to 4 inches to help your lawn withstand the added stress.

Closeup of water sprinkler on lawn.

Shaded lawn areas may need less water than hot, sunny areas.

For lawn repairs in lawns with mixed sun and shade, turn to Pennington One Step Complete Sun & Shade. This premium, all-in-one repair product combines Smart Seed grass seed, professional-grade fertilizer and natural wood mulch, and it repairs bare spots in two weeks or less under proper growing conditions. For larger lawn projects, follow the month-to-month calendar for cool-season lawns.

By giving your lawn a versatile mix of premium grass seed varieties specifically chosen to suit your region and your sun and shade conditions, you can enjoy a thicker, healthier, more beautiful lawn. Pennington has cultivated the trust of homeowners and lawn professionals for three generations by growing the finest grass seed possible. With Pennington Smart Seed Sun & Shade Mix, your lawn benefits from better research, better seed and better results – guaranteed – in sun and shade.

Pennington, One Step Complete and Smart Seed are registered trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

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