How to grow grass around trees

How do you grow grass under a tree?

How do you grow grass under a tree? - Vertdure Back to the blog

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Gardening is both an art and a science. It’s about arranging plants harmoniously using techniques of plant cultivation. 

It’s a known fact that grass doesn’t grow well under trees because of the shade. It’s possible, however, to grow healthy, natural grass in the shady areas with the propre care. In order to have a captivating landscape, it’s important to understand the reasons why it’s challenging to grow grass in order to learn how to grow grass under a tree. 

Can you plant grass under a tree? 

It’s generally difficult to grow grass under trees due to the deep shade as well as competition for nutrients and water. However, you can always grow shade-tolerant grass under trees with proper care and determination. Planting shade-tolerant grass while increasing the amount of water and sunlight, and monitoring nutriment levels should be enough to successfully grow green grass under trees.  

How can I get grass to grow under a tree? 

Growing grass under trees like maple, pine, spruce and oak trees seems impossible to do sometimes due to the lack of sunlight, vigor and density that make it hard for the grass to grow. 

Here are some lawn care practices to help you grow grass under trees:

Maple tree

  1. Select the most suitable grass seeds, sprigs or sod that can tolerate some shade. A grass seed mix or sod blend for shaded areas generally offers multiple species of grass to ensure a dense and healthy turf all year long. Soil moisture can also influence grass selection. Rough bluegrass, for example, grows better on poorly drained, moist soils than other types of grass.
  2. Before planting the grass, cultivate the surface of the soil and then remove the rocks and weeds from the area. Try not to damage tree roots by working around them and leave about 2 feet of space around the tree uncultivated to encourage its growth.
  3. Plant the grass seeds and rake them into the soil lightly. Water them one to three times a day for about a week. Once the grass starts to sprout, reduce irrigation frequency and increase the amount of water per session.
  4. Most shaded turf grass requires ½ to 1 inch of water weekly, preferably in the morning to avoid prolonged leaf wetness overnight. 
  5. Make sure to mow the shaded grass about ½ inch higher than the grass grown in the sunlight. A higher mowing height will help the grass absorb light better.
  6. You’ll need to apply a lawn fertilizer that is specific for turfgrass in shade. The latter will only need minimum nitrogen and potassium to help it grow stronger and improve its shade tolerance.
  7. Don’t forget to rake the fallen leaves because they will otherwise block sunlight and trap moisture.

Pine tree 

  1. Start with removing the dirt around the pine tree with a rake to help expose the soil to sunlight and moisture.  
  2. Till the soil to a depth of 6 inches preferably, and try not to damage the tree roots. You can use a garden fork or your bare hands to dig up the soil. 
  3. You will need to apply lime, as needed, to decrease the acidity. Every 1000 feet of soil will need around 10 to 15 pounds of lime. Lime will help adjust the pH level for grass to grow.
  4. Once you finish with the limestone, scatter some grass seeds. It’s always important to choose the right kind of grass to grow under your pine tree. As mentioned before, use a shade-tolerant type of grass
  5. Water the grass seeds every morning. The pine tree will absorb the water from the ground so the seeds beneath it won’t get enough of water. This is why it’s important to make sure you water the seeds regularly, about 1 to 2 times a day.

Spruce tree

  1. Thin out the branches of the tree to allow sunlight and rainfall to make it to the grass growing beneath.
  2. Start by gently raking the declining sod from the tree trunk to the outer edge of the tree canopy. Try not to damage the spruce roots as they are shallow and can be easily destroyed.
  3. Apply a layer of lower-acidity soil into the top couple inches of soil underneath the Spruce tree. It will help balance the nutritional inputs to allow both grass and the tree to grow together. 
  4. Throw an even layer of grass seed (always a shade-tolerant grass seed) and rake it lightly, and then add another layer.
  5. All you need to do is water the seeds. Be careful when watering to ensure you aren’t flooding the soil.


Want to improve your lawn’s health?


What kind of grass grows best in shade? 

When choosing the grass to grow in your garden, it’s very important to know which types of grass withstand shade, especially if you have a tree in your garden.  

Here are some of the best shade-tolerant grasses for lawns with low light conditions:

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass is a warm-season lawn grass that does well in shaded areas. However, it won’t thrive if it gets zero sunlight. This type of grass grows well in full sunlight, so when exposed to 4-5 hours of direct sunlight, they can fully resist the low light conditions after. 


Fescue grass is a group of cool season varieties that grow in shady areas. It contains two major sub-species: tall fescue and fine fescue.

Turf-type tall fescue can grow in drought conditions as well as low fertility regions. The fine fescues are fine, shorter fescue grass that can be divided into four categories: creeping red, hard fescue, chewings fescue and sheep fescue.

Fescue grass requires 4 to 6 hours of filtered or dappled sunlight and a propre lawn care (mowing height, regular watering, etc. ) for a healthy growth. It will give the grass a better chance of surviving low sunlight conditions.


Rough Bluegrass is the particular type of bluegrass that works well with shady areas. It’s also adapted for wet and cool areas. It requires about 4 hours of dappled sunlight daily to be able to fully grow.

Rye Grass

Perennial Ryegrass is the shade tolerant Ryegrass. It’s also a cool season kind of grass. It can thrive for several growing seasons if it gets at least 4 to 5 hours of full sun daily. You should know that Ryegrass doesn’t do well in dappled sun.

Tips to grow grass in shade 

Growing grass in shade can be a very challenging mission. So, here’s a list of tips to help you:

  • Prune the tree to thin the canopy, it will allow sunlight to reach the grass beneath.
  • Lawn aeration creates holes in the soil to allow air, water and fertilizer to reach grass roots. It’s better to aerate warm-season grass in late spring or early summer and cool-season grass in early fall.
  • After aerating the area, spread a thin layer of compost to give shady grass a boost to grow. Grass in shady areas needs less fertilizer than grass exposed to full sun, so the compost layer should be thin enough that you can still see grass blades after applying it.
  • Whether you’re sowing a shady area for the first time or overseeding an existing lawn, choose a quality seed that includes several types of shade tolerant grasses. This way, if one grass fails to succeed, there’s another one to take its place.
  • Know when to water your grass. If your shady lawn is courtesy of a building shadow, you won’t need to water it as frequently. In this case, it’s better if you water the grass deeply but infrequently to encourage deeper roots to form. This is vital for shady grass to thrive.
  • As mentioned before, try not to over cut the shaded grass. Keep it ½ to 1 inch taller than the exposed grass.
  • A shaded landscape should be given roughly one-half to two-third less nitrogen per year compared to a sunny one. In cold regions, a winterizer fertilizer is applied at half the recommended rate.
  • Keep foot traffic to a minimum by installing stepping stones or a simple mulch path to protect the grass.
  • If you can’t get grass to grow in the shady areas of your garden, consider planting a shade-tolerant, low maintenance groundcover. 


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How To Grow Grass Under Trees: Best Grass For Shade

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Most folks know that grass generally does not grow well under trees because of the shade. However, a lack of sunshine is not the only issue with trying to grow grass under a tree.

In some cases, it is possible to grow a healthy, natural grass lawn in the shade of a tree. In other cases, particularly when there are exposed roots, acidic soil under evergreens or oak trees nearby, you may be better served by choosing another option for landscaping the area.

If you choose to take on the challenge of growing grass around your trees, here are six tips to help you achieve satisfactory results.

Photo by Wantland Ink Landscape Architecture, PLLC – Browse traditional landscape photos

6 Tips for Growing Grass Under Trees

1. Choose a Shade-Tolerant Variety

Most grass does not grow well in shade so it is very important that you choose a shade-tolerant grass that thrives in your area. Your local garden center will know which types are best for growing in shade where you live, so talk to an expert and make sure you start your grass-growing journey with the right seed.

It is important to note that even shade-tolerant grasses require about four hours of sun per day. The main difference is that it can be only partial sunlight filtered through the leaves of the tree, but this may not be enough light if you are growing grass under a particularly dense tree.

2. Let in the Light

Pruning low branches and thinning out the density of your tree will let in more sunlight and increase your chances of successfully growing grass beneath the tree.

3. Feed Your Lawn

Common sense may tell you that grass in shady areas will require more nutrients, but it actually requires less nitrogen than grass grown in the sun. Therefore, go easy on the fertilizer in shady areas and opt for a nice layer of organic compost instead.

Photo by Zeterre Landscape Architecture – Discover traditional landscape design inspiration

4. Keep It Long

Grass grown in shade should be kept about an inch taller than grass grown in full sun. This will allow your grass to have a little more surface area for soaking up any sun that comes through the leaves.

5. Water Appropriately

Most people will find that their grass will need more water when it is grown under a tree. There are a few reasons for this, including a lack of rainfall and the competition between the grass and the tree. We do not get much rainfall in Southern California, but what little we do receive may by blocked by branches and leaves and never reach the soil around the base of trees. This means that this area of grass will receive less moisture from rain than other areas of your yard.

Additionally, the tree roots and grass roots will be competing for whatever moisture there is in the soil from rain or irrigation. Therefore, lawns under trees require more irrigation than those grown in sunny areas without competition.

It is important to note that some trees can actually be harmed by the amount of water required to keep grass alive. For example, the many oak trees found in Southern California do not do well with natural grass lawns planted too close to their base. Arborists generally recommend planting your grass at least 15 feet from the trunk for the health of the oak and the grass.

6. Practice Stress Reduction

If you want to successfully grow grass under trees, you need to reduce any stress on your grass as much as possible. This means keeping your dogs from urinating on or around the tree, limiting traffic and using as little herbicide as possible.

Photo by Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture – Look for modern landscape pictures

Alternatives to Natural Grass Under Trees

Many homeowners find that it is just too challenging to grow and maintain natural grass under trees. For these folks, it might be better to choose a different type of ground cover that will be just as attractive – or even more attractive, in most cases.

One option is to choose a drought-tolerant ground cover for shade that will require little to know water and add color and texture to the area without the high maintenance requirements of natural grass. This might include a non-living ground cover like gravel, bark or wood chips. Or it could be a living ground cover option, such as creeping thyme or types of sedum that do well in shade.

Another option, which may be particularly appealing to those who really want the look and feel of natural grass under trees and throughout their yard, is artificial grass. Choosing synthetic turf allows you to have a lush, green lawn that will look just as appealing and full under your trees as it will in sunny areas.

This is a particularly good option for those who want to have a grass lawn under trees that may be harmed by too much moisture in the soil, such as oak trees.

Photo by J. Grant Design Studio – Look for Mediterranean landscape design inspiration

As an added bonus, manufactured grass is also a low-maintenance option that provides the look of grass without the mowing, aerating, weeding, fertilizing, reseeding and edging that is required to keep natural grass looking its best. It should also be noted that all of these tasks will not guarantee good-looking natural grass under trees. So, unfortunately, even if you do give your natural grass plenty of attention, you still may not be satisfied with grass grown in shady areas.

Therefore, if most alternatives to natural grass lawns are not quite what you are looking for, you might want to consider artificial grass. Install-It-Direct can help you determine if synthetic turf is the best option for your particular project. Give us a call today to talk to one of our design consultants about your landscaping needs.

Further Reading
  • 9 Drought-Tolerant Ground Covers for Shade
  • Landscaping Tip for Shade: Planting Shade Gardens
  • Succulents for Shade: Drought-Tolerant Garden Succulent Guide

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Lawn under the trees - will it grow

  1. . Pros and cons of growing a lawn
  2. .Why the lawn does not grow well under the trees
  3. .How to keep the lawn next to the trees

Luscious grass, trees and shrubs look great, especially if they grow together and harmonize with each other. But the real state of affairs shows that the lawn under the trees grows poorly, leaving "bald" trunk circles. This article explains how to grow a full-fledged grass cover and the rest of the plants on it.

Pros and cons of growing a lawn

Many gardeners behind the external beauty and aesthetics of lawn grass do not see all the advantages and disadvantages of this plant. But you need to get to know them in advance in order to understand whether it is worth planting a lawn and how to do it.


  • Fruits acquire a juicy taste and bright color, are filled with a large amount of vitamins and microelements. Berries and fruits grown on a lawn are resistant to external negative influences: bumps, scratches, pests, etc.
  • The level of humidity in the ground increases, which favorably affects the vital activity of plants located nearby. It also makes it easier for people to breathe in the garden.
  • Soil sown with lawn grass dries out faster in spring and after heavy rainfall. This makes it possible to start gardening work earlier.
  • The earth with a lawn does not need to be dug up and loosened. Due to the grass carpet, the soil passes air and moisture, which prevents the formation of wind and water erosion.
  • In winter, the lawn keeps the snow in the root system, thereby warming it. And in summer, juicy grass saves the soil from overheating.
  • In the land on which grass is planted, biological processes are more actively carried out. The roots of plants attract nutrients from the lower layers of the soil, which saturate the trees and shrubs growing nearby.
  • Earthworms intensively multiply in unloosified soil, which contribute to soil fertility.


  • Lawn plants compete with trees and shrubs for food and moisture.
  • The presence and development of lawn seeds in the soil contributes to the shortening of the roots lying on the surface. This is fraught with frostbite of the root system in the cold season.
  • In the first 2-3 years after planting, trees and shrubs located on the lawn grow slowly and later begin to bear fruit.
  • Lawn grass provokes active reproduction of parasitic insects and diseases in plants.
  • In lawn-sown gardens, regular spraying should be carried out against pests and fungal infections, as they multiply faster in dense grass.

Why does the lawn grow poorly under trees

Many gardeners notice that immediately after sowing the lawn mixture, the grass sprouts quickly, but after 3-5 days it fades and dries up. That is, the lawn under the trees is dying for unknown reasons. In fact, the ongoing processes have their own explanation.

There are several factors that affect poor grass growth:

  • The lawn suffers from a lack of sunlight, because the crowns of the trees do not let it through.
  • During and after rain, drops falling from foliage soak and spoil the fertile soil layer on the surface. At the same time, the root system of the lawn also suffers.
  • Shading and high humidity provoke the growth of moss and the formation of mold, which adversely affects the grass.
  • Sowing meadow seeds as a lawn is unacceptable because these plants are not suitable for growing in the shade.

There are varieties of lawn grass that prefer lighted areas, and there are those that love shade. Therefore, when buying, it is worth choosing seeds, focusing on the existing conditions in the garden.

Most often, too much shading causes the extinction and death of a light-loving lawn. The grass stretches, weakens, turns pale and turns yellow. Lawn growth slows down, bald spots and fungal infections form on it. The grass carpet takes on a casual look. And large raindrops falling from the foliage of trees knock out holes in the ground, causing the grass to die.

How to keep the lawn next to the trees

Despite the complexity, it is still possible to grow an aesthetic lawn under trees and shrubs. To do this, you need to follow the rules for caring for the grass. 1. Select shade-tolerant herbs. Fescue or bluegrass will do. By purchasing such varieties, you can protect yourself from the death of plants due to lack of sunlight.

2. Choosing the right place. In deep shade, even a suitable variety of lawn should not be sown. If possible, choose the brightest place.

3. Making a near-trunk circle. These areas next to the trees are best sown with shade-loving plants that are similar to the lawn in appearance or look harmonious with it. For example, lilies of the valley.

4. Frequency of cutting. Shade-loving grass should be cut no more than once a month, keeping a height of 6-7 cm.

5. Aeration. For a shady lawn, the procedure should be carried out more often than for grass in a sunny place. Dark areas in the garden swamp faster due to the abundance of moisture. Therefore, 2-3 times a month, you should pierce the lawn, using a garden pitchfork for this purpose.

6. Delicate top dressing. A shade-loving lawn cannot be fertilized by everyone. Nitrogen top dressings are especially dangerous, because of which the grass will quickly age. But the drug Purshat-M for the lawn is suitable.

7. Watering. If you nevertheless planted plants in the zone of the near-stem circle, then they should be watered less and less often than grass growing in sunny places. Water in the morning.

8. Planting trees on the lawn. If grass was planted first, and now it is planned to plant trees or shrubs on it, then it is worth giving preference to varieties with small foliage and a rare crown.

9. The composition of the grass mixture. It makes sense to choose a mixture that contains shade-tolerant varieties of herbs. So the lawn will be more stable in growth in conditions of lack of light. The average life of the lawn is 15 years, but with proper care, the life of a grass carpet can be extended.

Learn to plant grass around trees

In an ideal universe, all people would have beautiful green grass that would be very well cared for regardless of the type of climate in the place where they live.

In the same universe, the grass will grow perfectly to the desired height, whether it is constantly in the sun or in the shade, so they would not have to cut it , water it and even apply insecticides and harmful herbs.


  • 1 Artificial grass damages tree roots
  • 2 Can artificial grass damage tree roots?

Artificial grass damages tree roots

It is possible that you will finally have the perfect lawn that you have been dreaming of, that is, disease-free, insect-free and it does not require maintenance, as there is artificial turf .

However, like everything in the world, artificial grass also has its pros and cons . One of the biggest challenges when installing artificial grass is do it around trees Thinking about it, we will show you how to best use artificial grass near trees.

Can artificial grass damage tree roots?

Usually people choose to use artificial grass near your trees because they can't grow real grass in that area.

The crowns of the thickest trees tend to cause a certain area of ​​land to get a lot of shade, and as a result, grass does not grow there, only allowing the roots of the tree to grow. all water and nutrients around which there is earth.

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One of the benefits of artificial grass is that can save you some money? because there is no need to water, fertilize or treat the grass. In addition, another advantage is that you can protect your trees? Because the vast majority of chemical herbicides and pesticides that are commonly used to keep lawns healthy tend to damage lawns as well as damage ornamental plants and kill small beneficial insects.

Similarly, cutting weeds that are very close to a tree damages the trunk of the tree along with its roots, causing open sores that can be a source of pests and some lawn diseases .

Artificial grass might seem like the best option now, but tree roots need enough water and oxygen to survive. Logically, the following question arises: Artificial grass damages tree roots ? The answer is that it depends on the type of artificial grass you are using. If it is good quality artificial grass If it is porous enough, it will most likely provide access to water and oxygen so as not to damage the roots of the tree.

However, if you use artificial grass, which is not porous enough , for the water and oxygen that the roots need to survive, it will be impossible to get to them.

Learn more