The 4 Best Grass Species for Shady Gardens

Having a garden with lots of shade can be fantastic in the hot summer months. Shady spots offer a place to retreat from the harsh summer heat and are great for entertainers who tend to spend a lot of the summer outdoors. But, too much shade can cause issues for many types of lawns.

Often, lawns need a certain amount of sunlight during the day, and if you have a lawn that isn’t shade-tolerant, you may notice spots that receive less sun begin browning, struggling to grow, and may even be dying off. However, there are a few grass species that are very common and cheap which can grow in well-shaded outdoor spaces. As experts in lawn care and maintenance, the team at Jim’s Mowing NZ takes a look at the grass species that will enjoy healthy growth in sunlight-deprived locations.


Here are the different types of shade-tolerant lawns that you may wish to consider if you have a garden that receives a lot of shade during the day.

Buffalo grass

Buffalo grasses are very good at tolerating shade, and there are many different varieties to choose from! Varieties such as Sir Walter Buffalo offer a soft-leaf, shade-tolerant grass that is also tolerant of drought, frost, wear, and full-sun, making it a versatile option for those who have a yard with varying levels of shade. Sir Walter grass can grow while receiving as little as three hours of sun each day, and its ability to self-repair quickly makes it a low-maintenance option.

The Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo variant is a lovely option of ground cover and it’s the most shade-tolerant of all Buffalo varieties. It can tolerate 60 to 70 percent shade levels. Apart from doing well without much sunlight, it’s also very resilient to foot traffic and has no problem growing in both warm and cold seasons.

Another shade-tolerant buffalo variety is Palmetto, which is a low-maintenance grass, known for holding its colour during the winter months. Palmetto is also frost and drought-tolerant and is good at handling wear. It has a soft leaf and requires just three or four hours of sun each day, and has a deep root system which contributes to its hardiness.

Zoysia grass

Zoysia is another broad category of grass with varieties that are good at tolerating shade. This grass can tolerate up to 40 percent shade each day, outperforming popular grass species Couch and Kikuyu, which can only tolerate 10 percent shade each day before manifesting health issues. Meyer Zoysia grass requires partial shade, which means eight hours of sunshine filtered through high pine foliage.

Emerald Zoysia performs better than Meyer by staying healthy despite only getting filtered sunlight through scattered trees the whole day. Sir Grange is another low-maintenance grass that has a high tolerance for shade, and also has a good resistance against drought, making it well-suited for areas that experience such conditions.

Another variety of Zoysia that can tolerate shady yards pretty well is Empire Zoysia. Empire Zoysia is a fine leaf grass that can handle drought and wear and can grow in less-ideal soil types like clay and sandy soil. Empire Zoysia also has a tolerance for salt, making it a variety worth considering for those that live along coastlines. Requiring just four to five hours of full sun a day, Empire Zoysia is a variety of grass that is relatively tolerant of shady spots.

Tall fescue grass

Tall Fescue grass is another shade-tolerant grass variety that will survive even if it only gets filtered sunshine through trees every day. With the best drought tolerance of all the cool season grasses, Tall Fescue grass can grow in shady areas or in full sun. It is extremely frost tolerant so can grow in cooler regions with a soil pH level between 5.5-6.5.

Weeping grass

Griffin Weeping grass is highly shade-tolerant and the best out of all grass species when it comes to its ability for healthy development without sunlight. Not only that, it’s not sensitive to climate as well; it can withstand drought, frost and salty air and land. To make this an even bigger winner is it has pretty and soft blades, making it a fantastic choice for New Zealand properties.

Enlist Lawn Care Experts

Shade-tolerant lawns require special care since they don’t get much sunshine. Letting grass grow tall is a must; doing so will allow grass to photosynthesise properly despite the low amount of sunlight in the area. To ensure that your shade-tolerant lawn looks great, trust the experts at Jim’s Mowing NZ! Our lawn mowing services will cut your grass to the perfect height and our lawn maintenance services like lawn aeration and lawn dethatching, means your lawn will be thriving! Receive a FREE quote today!