Not all grass seed is the same; some grow in sun versus shade and some are specific for different regions. For example, in Nebraska, Kentucky Blue Grass looks stunning. In Oregon, Kentucky Blue Grass looks dreadful. Make sure to buy a grass seed that is appropriate for your area and for your lawn. Since I live in the northwest, I will address grasses appropriate for that area of the country.
Rye grass needs more water, sun, and fertilizer than most grasses. This means that it is expensive and time consuming. It need at least six hours of good sun to grow vigorously and well. It requires more nitrogen and water so it isn’t as environmentally friendly as other grasses. Rye grass produces very lush, soft leaves perfect for playing on the lawn on a hot summer day.
Fescue produces a tougher, thicker leaf that grows in mixed shade or full shade. This grass also requires less fertilizer and water making it more environmentally friendly and less maintenance. Fescue tends to be my go-to grass for everybody because it is so much easier to grow, especially for those of us who may not have as much time or money to take care of our lawns.
For those people with patches of lawn in very deep shade or with wetter lawns, there are lesser known grass seeds such as Poa. This expensive grass looks patchy in a full lawn but it tolerates less grass friendly areas and withstands more water than most grasses. It is difficult to find and sometimes only available in small, locally grown brands.
You will rarely get a great looking lawn right underneath a large tree. First, the tree produces an incredible amount of shade so only the hardiest of grasses will grow there. Second, the tree absorbs most of the nutrients underneath its canopy and its shallow roots will outcompete the lawn. You will be much happier working with the tree and planting shade loving perennials rather than trying to grow a lush lawn underneath it.
Choose a grass seed that works with the amount of effort, money, and resources you are willing to put into it as well as one that works with your area and sunlight. Grass seed is driven by evolution and you’ll only frustrate yourself by fighting with the wrong grass seed. Double check with local garden centers in your area to see what they recommend.