Successfully Growing Grass Under Trees: A How-to Guide

One of the most difficult places for grass to grow is under trees. Your lawn requires adequate sunlight, and it is typically quite shaded beneath trees. As your tree grows it creates more shade, causing the grass beneath to die over time. The grasses underneath trees are also in competition for nutrients and water with the larger, more developed tree roots. The tree canopy also prevents rainwater from reaching the base of the tree. This leaves the soil quite dry and less rich in nutrients. The leaves and needles that fall prevent sunlight from filtering through. Thankfully, there are some easy practices that can be put into place to help your grass survive under trees!

Tree Dead Grass Turf Sod Maintenance Water Green

Deeper Roots

One of the main issues is the constant competition for water and nutrients. Aeration helps nutrients and air reach the grass root system. Doing a similar practice for the tree roots will help lessen the competition for nutrients and water. Use a thin post or a pipe to perforate the ground to a depth of at least a foot. Be careful not to damage any of the existing tree roots in the process. Put tree fertilizer down the holes you have just created to help encourage the roots to grow downwards. This will help your tree in the long run as they need less frequent waterings because of their deep root systems. There will be less competition as the trees will be getting more of their water from below the reach of the grass.

Lack of Sunlight

A lack of sunlight is a major contributor to your lawns difficulty growing beneath trees. Increasing the amount of direct sunlight your grass receives will drastically help the turf. One of the best ways to increase the amount of sunlight is to prune back some of the tree branches. Removing or thinning out some of the lower branches will allow more direct sunlight to filter through to your lawn, thus providing it with much needed sunlight. Another method of improving sunlight exposure is to remove fallen leaves and needles from below the tree. The leaves block out sunlight so remove them as often as possible.

 Tree Grass Sod Dead Maintenance Aeration Sod Turf Water

Regular Maintenance

Proper maintenance is also a key component in helping your grass thrive. Grass grown under trees typically requires more water than the rest of the lawn. There is a simple solution for this issue: water underneath these areas more often. Be careful when mowing as well. You should leave the blades a little bit longer than the rest of your lawn. leaving it a little longer than you typically would will help shade the soil underneath, leading to less evaporation of water. This will help the soil hold more moisture for your lawn.

Overseeding Your Grass!

Overseeding each season will also help to create a denser patch of grass beneath the tree. It is a good idea to overseed your entire lawn on a yearly basis, so this area is no different. We recommend using BigYellowBag’s Overseeding Bundle as it comes with the required fertilizer, seed and soil. Their professional top dressing mix ensures a perfect growing environment for your seed!

Soil BigYellowBag Overseed Seed Turf Sod Lawn Fertilizer Maintenance

Grass can be tough to grow beneath trees, but it doesn’t have to be if you use some of these practices! Mowing and watering should already be a part of your regular lawn maintenance, so simply make the required changes to the areas beneath the trees. Pruning will allow more sunlight to reach your grass, and will create a more aesthetic appeal to your trees in the process! Your lawn will thank you greatly and will show it after it receives proper care!

4 Responses

  1. Derrick Nedzel says:

    I have existing grass under a maple tree. The grass is patchy, some places there is no grass at all. I have tried to grow grass from seed, with poor results. I would like to lay sod, but I am concerned about scraping the existing sod off around the tree. This is a beautiful maple tree, about 27″ circumference, so it is a good sized tree and the only shade in our front yard. Will I damage the tree’s roots if I remove the existing sod in preparation for the new sod? I have heard that Maples have shallow roots which could easily be damaged by a sod cutter or similar power equipment. The yard is 96′ by 25′.
    thanks in advance, for any advice.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Derrick,

      Shaded spots are difficult to establish grass whether it’s from seed or with sod. All grass requires between 4-6 hours of sunlight daily to grow properly. Good thinking to be careful with the shallow roots around the tree, but i would just recommend to remove that sod using hand tools, being careful to not damage the roots. Consider implementing a small mulch zone around the base of the tree to clean up that area. You should be able to remove the rest of the turf in your yard using a sod cutter, and lay sod where more sunlight will penetrate 🙂

  2. Tina says:

    I have a shade tree and the grass is not growing under it. I’ve also noticed that some of the roots are visible above ground. Will using the fertilizer help the roots to grown down is they are already visible? TIA

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Tina,

      Might be too late to try and encourage downward root growth seeing as they’re already established, but it could help. Depending on the type of tree, you may not want to cover the exposed roots. My recommendation at this point would be to try and leave some room around the base of the tree where the roots are exposed, and establish your grass as best as you can away from the base of the tree.

      All the best and good luck with your lawn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *