Most grasses need at least some sun to perform at their best, and several grasses — such as some varieties of warm-season grasses — require full sun (at least eight hours a day). So, before selecting a grass for your lawn, evaluate how much sunlight it receives during the day, especially during summer.
Heavily shaded lawns typically need a cool-season grass, such as Buy Sod’s Select fescue/bluegrass mix. Cool-season grasses, which grow best in cool spring or fall weather, usually suffer significant stress under the harsh sun of summer, often going dormant or simply dying. Shade, however, moderates the sun’s heat under trees (both above the lawn surface and particularly below ground, where grass roots are), allowing cool-season grasses to survive in summer, as long as drought is not an issue.
A lightly or moderately shaded lawn, however, may grow well with a shade-resistant, warm-season cultivar, such as Buy Sod’s Zeon Zoysiagrass, Empire zoysiagrass, TifGrand Bermudagrass or TifTuf Bermudagrass (which can survive with only 25% sunlight). In fact, most warm-season grasses — zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass — thrive in heat and full sunlight.
When selecting ornamental plants for the landscape, horticulturists often admonish, “Right place, right plant.” The same is true for turfgrass. For the healthiest, best-looking lawn, always select a species and variety that’s right for the amount of sunlight the area received.