Seed and/or sod options for clay soil, shade and slope

Asked October 4, 2016, 9:22 AM EDT

I live in west Bethesda, MD (20817). Our yard has orange clay soil and very shady areas in front with mild slope and deeper slop in back with more sun. What seed or seed and sod combination might work? We plan to aerate but would a mix of organic matter/topsoil help as well? Any advice appreciated!!!!

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Turf type tall fescue grass grows best in full sun to partial shade. You will have to decide if you want to sod or seed. This can be considered for the back slope. Sod can be installed anytime the ground is not frozen.

Fine fescues grow best in shady areas. You are not going to find sod for shade areas, and you will have to seed. You may also be dealing with tree roots in this area. There is a lot of competition for moisture and nutrients from the tree roots. If you are not successful in growing grass, consider lightly mulching the area and planting groundcovers and/or shade perennials.

You should begin by viewing our publication on Turf Establishment and the advantages and disadvantages of seed vs. sod. If you are on a budget, sod will be more expensive than seed. You will also see steps for overseeding.
Seed and Sod - Make sure the soil is tested and the site is properly prepared. If you are renovating the lawn and tilling the area, you can add some organic matter such as compost.
Sod should be certified by the MD Dept of Agriculture. See the attached website for turfgrass producers