The Best Grass Seed for Shaded Gardens

A no-nonsense review with before and after photos

We Tried This Grass Seed and it Worked

Part of our lawncare section

By the team at DIY gardening

As many of our readers know, we like to create in-depth guides and reviews here at DIY Gardening.

Admittedly, sometimes we go a little too in-depth and get carried away so in this article I promise we’ll keep it short and sweet and let the photos do most of the talking.

If you’re looking for the best grass seed for shaded gardens, this page is for you

We Recommend Two Products – Here’s Why

We know from experience that if you buy just one grass seed product, there’s a chance only some of the seed will germinate and you’ll need to buy more and reapply the seed.

For some reason, grass seed produced specifically for shaded gardens seems to have a low success rate when it comes to germination.

Old packets that have been on the garden centre shelf for too long often have a low success rate. The worst we’ve seen is about a 25% success rate, that meant around 75% of the seed didn’t germinate.

Anyway, here are the photos of our lawn which is in a shaded garden.

As you can see there’s a small house, two tall pine trees and a row of 4 metre high shrubs surrounding the lawn.

September 2019

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April 2020

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Closeup Photo April 2020

This photo is a closeup of the grass which has been grown from seed and in a shaded garden:

The Grass Seed We Used

We used two different products and also made sure each contained several different varieties of grass.

Some grasses perform well in drier soils, some in damp soils, some have good resistance to disease while others don’t.  Some cope well with foot traffic while many are less hard-wearing. For these reasons we always recommend products with several different mixtures of grass seed so you have a better chance of success regardless of the conditions in the garden.

Graminex Grass Seed For Shaded Gardens

With good reviews and several photos on Amazon, we decided to try Graminex Shade Seed.

The box is much smaller at only 1kg so isn’t nearly as cost-effective as our second product but we reused the box as it had a handy built-in spreader.

A1 Lawn Seed For Larger Shaded Gardens

Containing seven different varieties of grass including three fescues, this product ticked all the right boxes for us.

As a bonus, it’s sold in large bags of 5kg which cover around 142sq metres. Unfortunately, there’s no spreader with this product, the seed arrives in a large bag.

Step by Step Guide to How We Created Our Lawn

We recommend reading our in-depth guide to growing a grass lawn in a shaded garden but if you’re in a hurry, here’s how we seeded and tended to our new lawn:

September 2019:

  • We cut back, thinned out and topped the boundary shrubs to allow more light into the garden.
  • We treated the lawn with a systemic weedkiller to kill weeds, existing clumps of grass and roots. As we wanted to protect bees from the chemicals, we then covered the area with a tarpaulin.
  • One week later we skimmed off the dead grass and weeds and then turned over the soil.
  • We then raked the soil to remove the weeds and grass roots.

Early October 2020:

  • We added compost and levelled the soil.
  • We waited 5 days for the soil to settle and pulled out a few weeds that had persisted.
  • We then added granular fertiliser and gently raked it into the surface.
  • The seed was then laid, treaded in and kept moist for the first month.

Winter Months:

  • We pulled out any large weeds but otherwise left the lawn alone and avoided walking on it.

Late March and Early April:

  • We treated the lawn with Weedol concentrate to kill off any broad-leaved weeds without harming the grass.
  • One week later we overseeded any bare patches of soil, of which there were only a few.
  • During an unusually warm and dry spell in early April we watered the grass daily and applied a seaweed extract fertiliser which is a little weaker than many others on the market.

Looking Forward:

  • We’ll continue watering weekly and more frequently during drier spells.
  • In the autumn we’ll add more fertiliser, weedkiller and a sprinkling of seed as required to fill any bare patches.
  • Raking and aerating will be considered during year two.

What We Would Do Differently

While this isn’t the first lawn we have laid from seed, we did make a few errors, due mostly to laziness:

  • There are several dips and raised areas of the small lawn so next time we would be more careful with the levelling.
  • Some of the original wild grass, which is very clumpy and grows faster than our new grass, has persisted. Next time we’ll apply more systemic weedkiller and be more thorough with the raking out of the old weeds.

Recommended Products:

 Soil Home Testing

By using this home soil testing kit you can quickly discover if your soil is deficient in Nitrogen, Potassium or Phosphorous, you’ll also discover your soil’s PH level. Use this data to adjust your fertiliser regimen or add sand or compost to your soil.

This type of testing is the key to growing the perfect green, healthy and lush lawn.

 Shade Tolerant Seeds

Graminex shade-tolerant grass seeds contain a mixture of six different grass species. This pack is created specifically for shaded garden areas and the broad mix of grass seeds creates the perfect balance for optimal growth, colour and hardiness.

We used this grass seed as part of our seed mix and are very pleased with the results.

 Lawn Aeration Shoes

Advertised as a cheap and easy way to aerate the soil under the lawn, these shoes have mixed reviews on Amazon and other online retailers, so we tested them. Lawn aeration is a great way to loosen up a compacted ground, but do lawn shoes work?

Head over to our blog and see what we think of lawn shoes and a few alternatives.

 Our Cylinder Mower

Cylinder mowers are great for small and medium gardens and the cut is razor-sharp with no tearing of the grass. This mower has 4 cutting heights and an optional grass collection bag. When folded, this mower is super compact so is perfect for small gardens.

While a manual mower like this requires more effort, we think they are worth it.

 Organic Lawn Fertiliser

This is our favourite lawn fertiliser as it ticks so many boxes for us. It’s organic, pet safe, won’t stain patios, contains high levels of potassium and includes bacteria which breaks down moss and excess dead thatch in your lawn bed.

We think this is by far the best fertiliser available for grass lawns in shaded gardens.

No Rake moss killer

General Lawn Fertiliser

Westland’s Growmore Garden Fertiliser is a general fertiliser comprising 7% Nitrogen, 7% Phosphorous and 7% Potassium. This fertiliser is perfect for preparing the soil near tree and shrub roots where there is competition for both water and nutrients.

Use slow-release granules like this when preparing the soil prior to laying seed or turf.

 The lawn Guide Book

Our favourite book: The Lawn Guide by Sharples and Hayman is a great read, learn how to prepare a garden for laying turf or seed. Where this book truly excels is in its lawn maintenance advice and tips which are extremely detailed and second to none.

Want to know how to grown the perfect lawn in any condition? This is the the book for you.

 Seaweed Lawn Tonic

We’ve been using this fertiliser for over a year and it’s perfect for sensitive areas where you don’t want to risk fertiliser burn and scorching. While a little weaker than many other products, it’s far more natural and perfect for newly sown lawns.

Looking for an organic fertilizer? This is made from 100% natural seaweed.

Explore More of our Lawn Guides Below:


Our lawn guide articles are very popular and have helped thousands of gardeners in the UK. Learn how to grow grass in shade, deal with pet urine, wear and tear, weeds and moss control. Start Here

Best Moss Killer For Lawns

We’ve tested and reviewed the best lawn moss killers you can buy in the UK. Let us help you get rid of moss and let your lawn grass thrive and grow with our expert help and guidance. Start Here

Over 40 Lawncare FAQS

We asked the experts and they answered our questions in detail. Discover over 40 answers to common lawn care questions here at DIY Gardening. We think this is a great resource! Start Here

This guide to the best grass seed for shaded gardens was created by the team here at DIY Gardening

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