I live in Washington State; my back lawn is 90 percent dead, the soil is hard and doesn’t drain well, and is 95 percent all shade. How can I get a thick, beautiful green lawn?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Rod in Washington: Although there is grass seed specifically for shady areas, establishing a lush green lawn in a shady area that does not drain well is certainly a challenge and may not be worth the time or effort, depending on the amount of shade and lack of drainage. From what you have described it sounds like you might fall into this category. Turf grass does best in a sunny, well-drained space. It really is not worth the frustration of replanting grass seed every year when it simply is not going to thrive. There are, however, other planting solutions so that you do not have to deal with a blank space that turns into an eyesore. Choosing plant material that is happy growing in a shady, poorly drained space will be less maintenance for you in the long run and will be aesthetically pleasing. The Pierce County Cooperative Extension Service would be a good resource for you in terms of what plant material does well in your area. It does not look like they have a horticulture agent but they do have a Master Gardener program. Their Web site is http://county.wsu.edu/pierce/Pages/default.aspx. Gardening in Kentucky, I have limited knowledge of what plant choices you have for the area that you are dealing with. You might consider moss or pachysandra, which is an evergreen groundcover that tolerates wet soil.