The #1 Basic Need of a Lawn?☀️ Sunlight ☀️
The secret to a healthy and dense Gainesville lawn is comprised of three main ingredients:
#1 - Sun
#2 - Water
#3 - Food (Lawn Fertilization and soil amendments)
Today's video is focused on the most vital one - sunlight. Depending on how much your lawn gets in a typical day, is one of a couple factors that directly affects the density of your Gainesville lawn. Full sun lawns grow grass easily, regardless of grass type. However, similar to the 90's song, it's 'Mo' shade, mo' problems' when it comes to your grass.
Shade Trees. Nearly everyone loves and wants them on their lot. A big, beautiful, well-established tree can not only add beauty to your Gainesville Landscaping, they can also provide shade which in turn keeps your home cooler and will save you on your energy bill. What is good for your wallet, however, isn’t good for your lawn. Too much shade is often the culprit for an unsightly thin area in a lawn, just like the video shows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they think all they need to do is install a pallet of sod and their lawn will be fine. What actually happens is the sod looks great for a bit, but then it begins to fade and their unsightly thin area is back. They're treating the symptom of the problem (the thinning grass) rather than the actual problem (the amount of shade on that area of the lawn).
The bottom line is that St. Augustine and Zoysia need about 5-6 hours of sunlight a day to do well. UF-IFAS says 6-8 hours.
The problem isn't that the lawn can't live in 4 hours of sunlight a day. I'm sure you can (as can I) point out may lawns that have less than 5 hours of sunlight, but look healthy. The problem I've found her is multi-pronged:
First, a lawn can live with less, but the first time it gets any type of stress - fungus, pests, over-watering, leaf spot, traffic, drought stress, or any other thing causing it to thin out, it doesn't have enough sunlight to rejuvenate. It's not that it doesn't have enough to live - but it doesn't have enough to recover.
The second issue I've noticed is that different trees have different root systems. The tree your neighbor has that allow grass to grow under it may have a deep root system that isn't affecting the lawn's roots. The tree shading your lawn may have visible roots pushing above the ground all over, and those roots take away water, nutrients, and cause compaction when the weekly maintenance service happens.
The third and final reason lawns struggle in shady areas is that they can't dry out. Without sunlight in our rainy and humid summers, the grass will thin out due to excess moisture, fungus, and other issues. If your irrigation system is running more than your neighbors, or has poorer drainage than the other shaded lawn you envy, this may have contributed to your lawn's demise.
There are 2 fundamental ways to improve the amount of sunlight in your shaded Gainesville lawn.
#1 - The first is obvious. Raise your canopies and thin the trees to maximize sunlight.
#2 - Expand bedlines and use shade-tolerant plantings to fill in areas where the grass is struggling.
If you can't get to 5-6 hours by removing and trimming trees, our recommendation is to jump to #2 sooner rather than later.