How to Keep Grass Growing Under Trees

1. Improve Sunlight! 

This tip maybe your “AHHAH” moment. Intensity and duration of quality light reaching the grass plant are important. The more time the grass plant has in full sunlight, the better it will perform. Pruning lower branches to raise the canopy will increase sun exposure and allow more wind circulation, helping to reduce humid conditions that can stimulate turf disease. Shade areas with restricted air movement may require treatment with Fungus Fighters to maintain a quality turf stand.

2. Traffic Management! 

Shade-stressed grass plants are less tolerant of heavy wear from foot traffic, so traffic management may be required. Active dog runs in shady areas may require physical barriers to alter the dog’s traffic patterns. A runway of mulch along the fence could be your best option for large active canines, giving them an area to run without destroying the grass.  Relieving soil compaction would be beneficial in heavy traffic zones. 

3. Use the Best Grass Seed for Shade! 

Uncle’s Premium Shade grass seed is the ideal blend of elite grass seed varieties with lower water and nutrient requirements. The shade grass seed shows improved shade tolerance and increased disease resistance. Reseed shady areas three times a year (spring, summer, and fall). A routine trimester seeding program adds youthful, vigorous, low light tolerant grass plants into the maturing turf stand. 

4. Deep Water Shade Areas! 

In the spring, with frequent rains, the shade tree and grass are good neighbors – there’s plenty of moisture for everyone. However, when spring rains stop and summer heat sets in, the trees get very unfriendly and selfish. A large shade tree can use hundreds of gallons of water a day, leaving very little moisture for turf grass. Discourage turf disease in summer with deep and infrequent waterings to reduce wet foliage. 

5. Reducing Soil Compaction! 

Condition the soil under your shade trees to help reduce soil compaction. Increase the soil’s water holding capacity and improve drainage by core aerating the area and raking PrimeraFC field conditioner into the aeration holes. PrimeraFC is a natural, porous ceramic granule that has incredible air and water holding capacity. PrimeraFC helps to relieve compaction and improve drainage when incorporated into the soil.

See Related: Soil Builder C20 – Non-Mechanical Aeration

What about large tree roots?

Unchecked over the years, soil erosion can expose shallow tree roots. Bare soil erodes quickly with no grass roots to hold soil in place. Top soil can be hauled in to cover exposed roots, but too much soils can be damaging for the tree. Gasses must pass from the air to the roots and from the roots back to the air. Too much soil pack can create real problems for the tree, so be careful! Some surface roots can also be removed. Large surface roots are more for anchorage and with expert help, you may be able to remove a few. Always contact an arborist for advice on removing tree roots.

If all else fails, start a shade garden. Hosta, astilbe, hydrangea all love the shade. At the Grass Pad we have a full nursery, so come on down and we can get you started with a shade garden. 

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