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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns


Thin areas and bare spots caused by shade
Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Click on image to enlarge.


Turfgrass growing in shady conditions has thin, spindly leaves and reduced shoot and root growth. There is more upright growth causing turf to thin out or become bare in spots. Weakened turf becomes more susceptible to disease and drought.

Prevention and management

Prune back tree branches to allow more light to reach the turf during the early morning and late afternoon. Raise your mower height 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.6 - 1.2 cm) above the normal recommended height for your turf species to improve the turf’s ability to compete with trees for water and nutrients. Avoid frequent, shallow watering and avoid watering in the early evening or at night. On shaded turf, the nitrogen requirement is only half of what is required for turf growing in sun. Maximize potassium fertilizer on shaded turf as potassium increases shade tolerance. If planting a new lawn in an area with shade, choose a turf species that is adapted to shade. In existing lawns, consider overseeding with a shade-tolerant species. In areas of the landscape that are too shady for a healthy lawn, consider planting other groundcover or creating a patio of paving stones or bricks.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

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