Big sections of my lawn have died?

Asked May 20, 2019, 5:59 PM EDT

Large sections of my lawn have died and exposed the underlying dirt. Most of this area is now growing moss. It all seems to correlate to extremely shadowed areas. It seemed to expand quite a bit last summer when it was pretty wet. What can I plant that would thrive in this condition. I don't mind mowing, but I would like to reduce herbicides or other maintenance. Tall grasses or flowers OK.

Dakota County Minnesota horticulture lawn

3 Responses

Shaded, wet conditions are ideal for moss. Moss also thrives in poor compacted soil.

If you want a lawn in this area, you're going to have to address the soil compaction (soil aeration or even rototilling) and the shade (prune up the tree canopy, or even remove some less desirable trees).

An alternative would be to try growing something else that is more shade tolerant. You'll still have to address the soil compaction issue, but you won't need to deal with the trees. Some plants to try would be hostas, bleeding heart, columbine, astilbe, heuchera, bergenia, and many others.

Here are several references. On moss:

On lawns in the shade:

On shade gardening:

Thanks for reply.

I think that I cannot reduce the shading. I did decide to remove two really large ash trees on the north side of my lot last fall. They did have a small area underneath them, but did not reduce the shading all that much.

The shading now is a couple big trees I like very much, plus the house, plus my neighbors trees.

Still, I have about 3,500 ft^2 of a 10,000 ft^2 lawn around my that requires repair.

I'm thinking of doing mostly grassy areas with flowery areas spread around. What would you suggest for the grass?


I would not recommend sod. Sod is usually grown in sun-drenched fields, and so the grass varieties would not be appropriate for your area. Reseeding is best done in late summer, at the end of August. Read here about starting a lawn:

Here is a handy calendar for lawn care tasks:

As for seed varieties, the Extension Service has done some research on best varieties: