front lawn of house with shade tolerant sod

Shade Tolerant Sod

Sitting beneath a canopy of shade trees sipping sweet tea sounds like a relaxing way to spend a cozy, spring day. However, if your feet are resting in dirt rather than a thick carpet of grass, your trees may be the issue. While some grass varieties thrive in the shade, others shrivel from a lack of sunlight and nutrients.

It’s true. Our leafy friends can block out a great deal of sunlight, causing grass to wither. Not only that, trees and grass often compete for the same water and nutrients. (This is especially true for trees with shallow roots.) This constant stress can shorten the roots of the grass, reduce wear tolerance and leave the plant more susceptible to disease. When picking a sod variety one of the first considerations is how much sunlight does it need.

Zoysia Sod

Zoysia turfgrasses handle the shade exceptionally well. Let’s look at three varieties that work in partial sun conditions.

  •  Zeon Zoysia
    Zeon® is widely considered the king of zoysia. It is a thin-bladed turfgrass that is certified pure. For many, it’s the velvety softness and bright green color that make it stand-out from the pack. It grows well in several types of soil and has an intricate root system, making it dense and durable.
  • Marvel Zoysia Sod
    is a fine-bladed zoysia grown exclusively at NG Turf that also stands up to shady conditions. It doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer and can handle prolonged dry spells. Both home and business owners turn to this turf variety because it tends to be low maintenance and will keep its color late into the fall.
  • El Toro Zoysia Sod

    The symbol for El Toro zoysia is a bull, and rightly so. It’s stubborn when it comes to the weather and weeds. It does very well in shady conditions, reliably maintaining its dark green color in partial sun conditions. El Toro is also dense which allows the grass to choke out any unwanted sprouts, and it doesn’t require a lot of water or fertilizer; a little love goes a long way with this zoysia.

close up of zeon zoysia sod
marvel zoysia sod close up from NG Turf, Atlanta Georgia
el toro zoysia sod close up

Still Want Shade?

If you already have one of these grasses but want to add pops of interest to your yard with trees, fear not (just choose wisely). Select trees with more open canopies and deeper root systems like poplars, birches, and pines. Once planted, water these trees thoroughly but infrequently to keep the roots growing deep underground. Now your lawn and trees can live happily ever after, while you enjoy lazy afternoons full of soft grass AND cool shade.


If you have questions about shade tolerant grass for your yard, give the NG Turf experts a call at 770.832.8608 or email


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