Shade Sod Care and Maintenance

Asked August 10, 2019, 6:27 PM EDT

Hi There, I’m looking for a watering, fertilizer - overall care guide specific to shade sod. I’ve been to 3 retail outlets and they all say different things. Appreciate any info or direction you can provide. Thanks so much.

Clackamas County Oregon lawns and turf

10 Responses


  • Minimally, once per week during the active growing season
  • Maintain the turf at a 2 to 3” height
  • Return the grass clipping using mulching blades


  • 2 lbs N per 1,000 sq ft annually
  • Fertilizer containing high nitrogen and low phosphorus ratios (e.g. 24-2-12)
  • Fertilize 2 times per year, once in the spring and once in the fall - this is the big difference for shade turf, full sun would require twice as much fertilizer
  • Returning grass clipping will maximize the applied fertilizer


  • Start irrigation in mid-May and conclude in mid-September.
  • ·Make sure irrigation heads are operational in April, prior to drought stress
  • Apply ¼” of water 3 to 5 times per week (east of the Cascades will require daily irrigation)
  • Use a rain gauge to determine the run time required to apply ¼” of water


  • Inter-seed thin turfgrass areas in the spring and fall
  • Use fine fescue for shade areas

Thank you so much!

Dr. Kowalewski,

I just have a quick question about the fertilizing. You said to do 2lbs annually then say apply twice per year. Does that mean 1lb per 1000 in the Spring and then the same 1lb in the fall? Or does that mean 2lbs both times = 4lbs annually. Really appreciate the info! Thanks.


1 lbs N in the spring and 1 lb N in the fall totaling 2 lbs N annually.
If you had full sun increase this to four applications, but don't apply more than 1 lb N per application.

HI Dr. Kowalewski,

Sorry to bother you but two quick questions before I start this process:

1. I'm not sure what "N" is? If you already told me I apologize.
2. I went to a landscape store to pick up the seed and they said I needed a mulch/moss as a dressing for newly seeded lawns. You didn't mention that so I want to make sure that is ok or not for the fescue
3. Does the ground need aerated before applying the seed? How long after seeding to I apply the fertilizer? Thank you so much for your info, I really appreciate it!

N= nitrogen, the bag of fertilizer will have three numbers on the front like this... 25-3-10. You want the first number nitrogen (N) to be the largest number.

Mulch will help with establishment, it is important in the spring, but not necessary in the fall. It will help the surface from drying between irrigation events.

Aerification or lightly raking bare soil will help establishment as well. You can fertilize and then seed as soon as you are done. The fertilizer will not hurt the seed.

Thank you so much for the info. So I will follow that plan and do without the top seed mulch they recommended. Very much appreciate your time.

Sorry for the duplication if the other one went through. Last question(s) - Promise...
So I over-seeded and fertilized a couple weeks ago and it was the last of the rain. I'm wondering with the seed and fertilizer being so 'new' should I be watering in the cold weather? If so, how much and how often?

As always, I appreciate your time.

if the soil dries out the seed will not germinate, establish. Considering the current weather, some supplemental irrigation may be required. If you don't have germination after a week of watering add more seed.

Thank you.