By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Tall fescue, K-31 or turf type, is best planted or over seeded in the fall in Kansas. It has a longer green season compared to buffalo or Bermudagrass. Fescue likes the cool of spring and cool of fall and is shade tolerant, not shade loving. This is one of the main reasons it’s recommended, most homeowners have shade somewhere in the landscape.
While it is the best choice for shade in Kansas it does have its limitations. It will not grow in dense shade. How do you know if you have a dense shade situation? How many times have you tried to overseed your lawn? If you are overseeding every year or every other year to thicken up that troublesome area you are overseeding too much. You shouldn’t need to do this very often.
You need to fix the problem but how? One option is to eliminate shade by either pruning out branches or eliminating trees. Shade takes time to attain as trees can take many years to grow.
Thinking outside the box. Consider a move away from grass altogether by planting shade plants and shrubs in those areas instead! Plants like hosta, ajuga, liriope, heuchera, English ivy, and vinca are short perennial options. Shrubs come in many forms like viburnum, yew, dogwood, euonymus, hydrangea, spirea, nandina, holly, etc. Use a thin layer of mulch around the tree after killing the grass and weeds in the dense shaded area first then plant the shade plants.
Results of this plan will yield less mowing and a more attractive planting.