The shade is very important when you’re establishing a new lawn or reseeding your existing turf. Although all grasses require some sunlight, some shade-tolerant varieties only do well with 4-6 hours of partial sun or filtered sun through the tree leaves.
Does bermuda grass grow in shade? No, Bermuda grass is not very tolerant to shade. Bermuda needs at least 4-6 hours of direct sun each day to thrive. Less exposure will lead to poor growth, thinning of the leaves, retarded growth, and makes it more susceptible to diseases.
So if you have tall trees and other obstacles blocking direct sunlight on your lawn, you should consider another type of grass that can tolerate low sunlight.
This means the growth and development of this turfgrass will largely depend on how much sunlight it gets per day. Although there are Bermuda grass varieties that require less sunlight to thrive, they still need at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.
Sun requirements for Bermuda grass
When you compared Bermuda grass with other turf grasses, Bermuda grass has a higher light requirement than the others. It will not thrive in shaded areas and is tolerant of both heat and drought, even dry soil, so it won’t be affected by the hotter sun during the dry months.
If Bermuda grass gets less than 4 hours of full sunlight every day, it will photosynthesize less and this will reduce the amount of energy available to the grass which leads to retarded growth which in turn reduces its tolerance to drought, heat, disease, and cold.
The intensity of the sun and the duration the sun is out during the day is also very important because it will affect the growth of the leaves, stolons, and rhizomes.
Some Bermuda grass types have improved resistance to the shade and can tolerate lee sun exposure, but they still need a few hours of sun exposure to thrive.
However, they still don’t do as well as ryegrass or Zoysia grass.
How shade affects your Bermuda grass lawn
Bermuda is a warm-season grass that requires plenty of sunlight so shaded areas will subject it to poor growth.
It has an aggressive growth rate so it will require more maintenance than other grasses.
It’s a wear-resistant, tough, and durable lawn grass that can withstand heat and drought, but if there’s a lot of shade around your lawn, it will start to die.
Signs your Bermuda grass isn’t getting enough sunlight
Thinning of your Lawn
After some time of reduced sun exposure, you’ll notice that your lawn will start to thin out because of reduced lateral growth because there is reduced photosynthesis.
This means you’ll have a sparsed lawn and this will leave a lot of room for weeds like crabgrass or dandelion to take over your lawn.
Having thin leaves and tall stolons don’t look good on any lawn.
Abnormally Elongated Stems
If your Bermuda grass is getting less than 60% of direct sunlight, these are very low conditions for it to thrive.
Your lawn will start to develop elongated leaves, stems, and internodes.
Less Tolerance to Disease
The shaded areas of your Bermuda grass lawn will be more susceptible to lawn diseases like root problems, fungal infection, moss, and other diseases.
This is caused by the dew that has settled on the leaves for a longer time compared to when it’s exposed to the sun.
Shade Tolerant Bermuda Grass Types
Grass types that have thin leaves tend to thrive in the shade and celebration Bermuda grass has finer leaves and can easily achieve a denser turf and tolerate reduced light than other Bermuda varieties.
However, even shade-tolerant grass types still need at least 4 hours of direct sunlight to thrive.
Celebration Bermuda grass is a dark green Bermuda grass variety with deep and very aggressive deep roots, rhizomes, and stolons that provide excellent sod strength compared to other varieties in the same class.
It has superior wear recovery, it requires very little maintenance, and is drought resistant.
It can handle cold very well and is a great choice for your lawn if you experience heavy use and high traffic because of its aggressive growth and rapid recovery abilities.
It requires less water and mowing than your normal Bermuda grass.
Best shade grass types
Grass that grows in shady areas on your lawn tends to be moister than other parts that have ample direct sunlight, so it needs less water.
When it’s time to mow the shady spots, adjust your mower to leave the grass taller in these parts to help them absorb more sun even in the shade. Longer blades are also more resistant to fungal infections and stress.
Some common grass types can thrive in partial shade or full shade. Others prefer dappled shade or light/heavy shade.
These are some alternatives to bermuda that are more shade resistant.
Degree of shade
Can thrive with only 4 hours of dappled sun
Do well with at least 4 hours of direct sun daily
Can flourish with only 4 hours of dappled sunlight daily
Requires at least 3 hours of daily direct sunlight. Fine Zoysia prefers shady spots
Thrives with 4 hours of full sun daily
Can do well with 6 hours of partial sunlight daily
To improve the growth and health of your Bermuda grass under the shade, you should improve sunlight penetration to the grass below, mow your Bermuda lightly to improve its ability to capture more light, reduce traffic on the shaded areas to reduce stress, and apply the right amount of nitrogen fertilizer.
However, before you plant your turf grass on your lawn, test with a few plugs to see if it’s too shady for your grass type.
Bermuda grass is a very hardy turfgrass that can plant on your lawn.
References and sources:
Daily Light Requirements for Bermuda Grass By J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D
Shade – Resistant Bermuda Grass – By Wayne Hanna and Bryan Maw.