How to Keep Grass Growing Under Trees

Very little is required to germinate grass seed. The right amount of moisture and heat and grass seed will grow even with no light and no nutrients. Mother Nature designed her grass seeds to sprout in the deep shade of established grasses. Young grass plants tolerate lower light conditions; however, as grass plants mature, more sunlight is required to maintain health and vigor. Lack of vigor will affect turf density allowing weeds to move into the thin areas. While the area under the tree can be heavily shaded, with a little extra effort, it is rarely too shady to grow quality turf. Here are the top five idiot-proof tips for growing grass in heavy shade.

Premium Shade Grass Seed at the Grass Pad

1. 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 (April 15, August 15, and September 15). A routine trimester seeding program adds youthful, vigorous, low-light tolerant grass plants into the maturing 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. 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.

4. 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 Fighter to maintain a quality turf stand.

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 Primera Sports Field Conditioner field conditioner into the aeration holes. Primera Sports Field Conditioner is a natural, porous ceramic granule that has incredible air and water holding capacity. Primera Sports Field Conditioner helps to relieve compaction and improve drainage when incorporated into the soil.

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.

More Related Articles to Idiot-Proof Fall Lawn Renovation

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  • Soil microbes are Mother Nature’s soil aerators. Feeding soil microbes helps promote soil health. Learn more at this link.

Why Grass Dies Under Big Shade Trees

Fighting Fungus in the Lawn

Core Aeration vs. Verticutting



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