Tall Fescues do well in partially shaded areas. While they are not ideal for heavy shade, when they are grown at a higher height of cut, they persist well in partial shade. A higher height of cut will provide more leaf surface area, which increases photosynthesis and allows the plants to have a better chance of persisting in the shade. They do well in combination with small percentages of shade tolerant Kentucky Bluegrass or Fine Fescue when used in a shaded location.
Perennial Ryegrasses are not shade tolerant. They can persist for a time under shaded conditions, and so Perennial Ryegrasses are sometimes added in a low percentage to shade mixes to aid in establishment. They should not be expected to persist indefinitely in a shaded location and in a properly constructed mixture, they will be replaced by other grasses that hold up well in the shade.
As a group, Fine Fescues thrive in the shade. It is very important to use improved varieties for high performance in shaded conditions. Many commercially available shade mixtures are loaded with common Creeping Red Fescues and Chewings Fescues, which offer poor turf quality under even ideal conditions and will result in poor shade performance. Improved varieties provide beautiful, fine textured turf in shaded areas.
Kentucky Bluegrass varieties vary greatly in their ability to thrive under shaded conditions. For the most part, Kentucky Bluegrasses are not considered to be shade tolerant grasses, however, certain varieties hold up very well in shaded locations. A higher height of cut will provide more leaf surface area, which increases photosynthesis and allows the plants to have a better chance of persisting in the shade.