In this post, we discuss tips on how you can successfully grow grass under a tree, an area which can be a challenge because of shade.
If you’ve had problems with patchy areas of grass under the trees in your hard, you are not alone. Because of the shade from trees, it can sometimes be very hard to grow healthy grass in these parts of your lawn that don’t get full sunshine.
Healthy, natural grass in the shade of a tree is possible, in some cases. However, if you have acidic soil and exposed roots under your evergreens or oak trees, you may better be served by choosing another option such as ground cover for landscaping those areas.
When choosing to grow grass under your trees, there are a few tips you should know in order to get the results you desire.
A lack of sunshine is not the only issue when trying to grow grass under a tree. By taking some other factors into consideration, you will have the best chance of getting the grass you want in shady areas.
Tips for growing grass under trees
1. Choose a Shade-Tolerant Variety
There are many types of grass that can grow in the northern Illinois area. Choosing the right one for your yard, whether it is sunny or shady is the key to a successful lawn.
A dense tree makes it harder for sunlight to filter through the leaves to your lawn. For growing grass under a tree, you will need to select a shade tolerant variety of grass.
Shade grasses require only four hours of sunlight a day, unlike sunny area grasses that require six or more.
Shade-tolerant grasses that thrive in your area will increase chances of a full lawn. Your local garden center can inform you as to the types of grasses to choose from. Talking to an expert will ensure you start your journey with the right seed.
Some of the best grasses for shade areas under trees include Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue.
Related post: Best Shade Grass for Illinois
2. Let the Light In
Once you are certain that you have chosen the right shade-tolerant grass variety for your shady area, some careful pruning of your tree is your next step.
Thinning out the density of the tree and pruning lower branches will allow more sunlight to your lawn and increase chances of growing grass successfully beneath a tree.
3. Feed Your Lawn
You will want to make sure you have good healthy soil in your shady areas under trees with the nutrients your grass needs to thrive.
Grass in shady areas actually requires less nitrogen than grass grown in the sun. Because of this, instead of using the same fertilizer you use on the rest of your lawn, add a nice layer of organic compost. A good organic compost contains more than just the usual nitrogen and phosphorus, it will have micronutrients and minerals often not found in commercial fertilizer.
Related: How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn?
4. Keep Grass Longer
Ideally, your grass directly under your trees should be allowed to grow a little higher. If you allow your grass to grow to about an inch more in height, it will enable more surface area for soaking up the sun that comes through the leaves, even when planted in shady areas.
5. Water Appropriately
Competition between the grass and tree, or lack of rainfall may be the reason the grass needs more water when grown under a tree. In areas of little rainfall, the minimal sunlight is blocked by branches and leaves, and may never reach the soil around the base of the trees. This results in that area of grass receiving less moisture from rain than other areas in your yard.
Additionally, tree roots and grass roots will compete for moisture within the soil from rain or irrigation. Therefore, lawns under trees require more irrigation than those grown in sunny areas without competition.
Related: Tips for proper watering
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. This may not always be possible but if you have a particular area you’re having trouble growing grass then it’s a good idea to try and keep your dogs away from there.
Alternatives to Natural Grass Under Trees
If all these steps sound like too much work for you, then you should consider a different ground cover than grass.
Many people find that using a ground cover can be just as attractive, or even more so than maintaining natural grass under trees.
You can choose a drought-tolerant ground cover for shade that requires little water or sunlight. This can add color and texture to an area without the maintenance requirements of natural grass.
A non-living ground cover like gravel, bark or wood chips could also work for you. A living ground cover option such as creeping thyme, or types of sedum do well in shade.
We hope this post helps you get your lawn looking it’s best!
Call us today at (630) 717-0007 to talk to one of our lawn care consultants about your landscaping needs or request a quote online.
Green T Lawn Care is a family owned company located in Aurora, IL and provides professional lawn care services to the suburban Chicago area. View our service area