Proper fertilization, mowing practices, and irrigation can make a big difference in your lawn’s health. But there’s one thing many people overlook when selecting a grass species for their Texas property: How much sun the area gets each day.
Adequate sunlight is essential to plant health, including that of turf grass. Without enough sun, your lawn is unable to photosynthesize and create energy.
Fortunately, not all grass types require the exact same amount of sun. Many cultivars thrive with just a few hours of light per day, making them ideal for lawns that are partially covered in shade. Keep reading to discover the best grass for shade in Texas plus some of my go-to strategies for maintaining a shady lawn.
- Best Grass For Shade in Texas
- Tips for Growing Grass In Shaded Areas
- FAQs Shade Grass for Texas
Best Grass For Shade in Texas
For warm climates like Texas, I recommend turning to one of three grass types for your shady lawn needs: St. Augustine, zoysia, or Bermuda.
Each of these turf species includes at least one cultivar that performs well in partial shade. I’ve covered 9 of my top recommendations in greater detail below. With the provided information, you can easily compare these cultivars to determine which, if any, is the best option for your low-light Texas lawn.
By the way, our site is supported by visitors like you. Some links on this page may be affiliate links which means if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! You can find out more here.
1. St. Augustine Raleigh
St. Augustine Raleigh is a popular grass cultivar developed and released by North Carolina University in 1980. Today, it is one of the most widely planted St. Augustine varieties in the southern United States.
Raleigh grass requires 6 to 7 hours of sunlight each day for the best performance. In many cases, you can get away with growing this cultivar in filtered sunlight under sparse trees or hedges. But the full sun is always ideal.
Compared to other types of St. Augustine, this version has a medium texture and colour. In addition to its improved shade tolerance, St. Augustine Raleigh is often selected for its cold tolerance and disease resistance.
2. St. Augustine Del Mar
Del Mar is considered the most cold-tolerant of all St. Augustine cultivars. You will find this grass variety growing along the northern edge of St. Augustine’s hardiness range. It is especially popular in cooler parts of Texas.
It is also highly regarded for its shade tolerance. I recommend planting St. Augustine Del Mar in areas that receive at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Del Mar grass performs equally well in full sun and moderate shade.
St. Augustine Del Mar has a medium blade texture similar to Raleigh. In terms of colour, healthy Del Mar tends to be dark green.
The main problem associated with this cultivar is excess thatch buildup. Be prepared to invest in regular thatch maintenance for the best results.
3. St. Augustine Palmetto
According to its developer, St. Augustine Palmetto is the most popular patented grass cultivar in the world. It’s easy to see why when you take into account Palmetto’s overall success in a variety of climates and soil compositions.
St. Augustine Palmetto is frequently recommended for shady areas but still requires 5 to 6 hours of sun a day to remain healthy. It also boasts notable resistance to cold, drought, and common turf diseases.
Despite its finer texture, this grass is ideal for high-traffic lawns. The blades have an attractive emerald green colour.
St. Augustine Palmetto is a semi-dwarf cultivar that performs best when maintained between 2 and 2.5 inches tall. It is known for a lack of thatch buildup.
4. St. Augustine Sapphire
If your lawn’s appearance and texture are top priorities, I highly recommend sampling St. Augustine Sapphire. This is another shade-tolerant cultivar that boasts a beautiful blue-green colour and ultra-soft blade texture.
St. Augustine Sapphire holds up to salt and drought, making it ideal for the Texas coastal regions. On average, a Sapphire lawn will require less maintenance and irrigation than other types of St. Augustine.
This grass spreads vigorously to repair bare patches but won’t require constant mowing.
5. St. Augustine Seville
St. Augustine Seville is another cultivar well-known for its use in shady lawns. It requires 6 to 7 hours of sun on average to really thrive and is a great option for properties that are partially shaded throughout part of the day.
This cultivar has a finer texture than standard St. Augustine and produces a dense carpet of low-growing blades. It tolerates most soil compositions and a wide pH range. Growing and maintaining St. Augustine Seville can be successfully achieved throughout most of Texas without worry.
Unfortunately, this grass won’t tolerate routine wear-and-tear as well as other cultivars I’ve recommended here. So Seville isn’t the best choice for lawns with moderate or heavy foot traffic.
6. Zoysia Grass Emerald
The first zoysia cultivar I want to recommend is Emerald. This is a very popular option for shady, warm-season lawns.
Zoysia Grass Emerald prefers at least 4 to 5 hours of sun per day. It will flourish almost anywhere with high heat and humidity. It can even survive with just 3 hours of daily sunlight if all other growing conditions are ideal.
Zoysia Grass Emerald will produce a dense carpet that chokes out competing weeds.
This grass recovers very well from general wear-and-tear and seasonal dormancy. It is best maintained between 1 and 2 inches tall but can also go for extended periods without mowing.
7. Zoysia Grass Palisades
Zoysia Grass Palisades is an extremely low-maintenance cultivar. It’s also one of the most drought-resistant options for Texas lawns.
The exact shade tolerance of Palisades grass is up for debate. Some sources recommend at least 7 hours of sunlight for the best performance. However, I know of cases where this grass has survived on as little as 4 hours of sun on average.
If you live in a coastal part of Texas, take note that this cultivar withstands both heat and salt. It’s also quick to recover following heavy foot traffic.
8. Zoysia Grass Zorro
Another zoysia grass worth considering is the Zorro cultivar. This is a somewhat new variety that was released by Texas A&M University in 2002.
I’m a big fan of this zoysia grass for shady lawns because it requires just 3 to 4 hours of daily sunshine in most areas to thrive. It’s ideal for properties that receive filtered light or full sun during a small part of the day.
While some types of zoysia are infamous for having a rough texture, that’s not the case for this cultivar. Zorro grass is fine and soft. In my opinion, it’s one of the most barefoot-friendly grasses to grow in Texas.
9. Bermuda Grass Celebration
Bermuda grass is found throughout Texas and the rest of the southern United States. It is extremely drought tolerant since its roots regularly exceed 6 feet in length — all of which contributes when it comes to wanting the appearance of your Bermuda grass thicker and to spread faster. Making this a popular choice in these climates.
There are several high-quality Bermuda cultivars to choose from but Celebration is one of the best options for shady areas. It tolerates heavy traffic, recuperates well, and is relatively easy to maintain.
It is widely reported that Bermuda grass blends well with slightly coarser varieties like zoysia grass. If you’re struggling to find a single grass cultivar that suits your lawn’s needs, I highly suggest exploring this or a similar combination of grasses.
Tips for Growing Grass In Shaded Areas
Selecting the right grass type for your area will go a long way in creating the lawn of your dreams regardless of sun exposure. For the best results possible, however, I recommend taking a few extra steps when preparing and maintaining your lawn.
There are several things you can do to increase turf’s odds of success in the shade. In my experience, these 4 tips have the greatest return on investment for the average shady lawn:
Prune Hedges and Trees to Reduce Shadows
Reduce shadows where you can by keeping shrubs and trees well-pruned.
Many grass types require full sun. However, thinning out dense hedges or tree branches may provide enough partial sunlight underneath for more shade-tolerant grasses to thrive.
Identify landscape elements that may create shade in the future and avoid planting bulky shrubs or ornamental trees in areas that will cast large shadows over your lawn.
Large trees and shrubs are big investments in the average landscape. Personally, I wouldn’t sacrifice the health of either for the benefit of a grass lawn. I only recommend pruning when it will improve or have no impact on the health of your hedges and trees.
Mowing Your Lawn Short
As a rule of thumb, grass growing in the shade should be cut ½- to 1 inch taller than grass growing in full sun.
Keeping shaded grass on the long side increases the surface area for proper photosynthesis. This can help offset the health effects of growing grass in excessive shade.
Proper nutrition is key to growing turf grass in the shade. However, shaded grass generally needs as little as half as much nitrogen as grass growing in the sun.
Since overfertilization can be catastrophic for lawn health, I recommend starting with half the amount of nitrogen per square foot as suggested for sunny areas and increasing applications in future seasons if needed.
Keep Foot Traffic To A Minimum
Foot traffic slowly but surely compacts the soil. This can stress out grass that is already struggling due to inadequate sunlight.
Avoid heavy foot traffic in shaded areas of your lawn whenever possible. Encourage children and pets to play in areas where there is plenty of sunlight and the grass appears healthy.
You can minimize compaction in shady areas by placing some simple stepping stones where foot traffic normally occurs.