Selecting the proper shade-tolerant variety of turf (species and cultivar) is the most important aspect of successfully growing turf under shade conditions. Turfgrasses are divided into warm-season and cool-season grasses:
Warm-season grasses, such as zoysiagrass and Bermudagrass, are not generally grown in West Virginia’s cool climate, but are grown in some areas of the state with varying levels of success. Certain varieties of zoysiagrass are more shade-tolerant than others, but Bermudagrass will not tolerate shade.
Of the cool-season turfgrasses, fine fescues are best adapted for shady areas. Although they grow quite well in cool, dry shade, they are not recommended for poorly-drained soils or in parts of the state where summer temperatures are above 85°F for prolonged periods.
Certain varieties of perennial ryegrass may also be considered for shady areas. Though they will give a good cover early in the season, they are usually severely thinned by the end of the season; annual reseeding helps remediate this condition.
Certain improved Kentucky bluegrass cultivars have also shown varying levels of adaptation to shade, although most cultivars of this grass species require full sunlight.