|I think we can all appreciate the splendor of even a handful of trees in our lawns. They are beautiful, provide shade, clean the air, and they are a nice distraction for the kids if you have a spare tire around to rope up on a well-placed limb. |
But if you prefer a nice thick, lush weed-free lawn under your trees, you’ll have to make special effort to help them cohabitate.
Large trees can starve turfgrass of much needed sunlight needed to prosper. Also, tree roots can interfere with grass roots when too close to the surface. Trees and most grass varieties constantly compete for moisture and nutrients when too close to each other. Trees and lawns may also compete for necessary moisture and nutrients within the soil. Also, tree leaves can smother grass in the vicinity during the fall if not removed fairly quickly.
But trees aren’t the bad guys here. Lawn areas near trees may not be healthy for the tree either. Trying to mow grass around the base of a tree can damage tree roots and bark, causing cankers or areas of entry for insects and diseases.
So What’s a Homeowner To Do?
It’s important for homeowners to be aware of the ever-changing micro environment around their homes. Trees don’t typically get smaller. So when a tree matures in size and noticeably starts to affect your lawn, it’s time to modify your landscape. Search for turf types and turf cultivars that are more tolerant of some shade.
Maybe It’s The Grass
In northern regions of the US, many of fine or red Fescue varieties perform fairly well in more shaded areas. Newer varieties of Bluegrass and Fescue are also marketed to be more “shade tolerant.” In the South US , St. Augustine grass is considered the go-to grass for semi-shaded lawn areas.
Some of the newer improved Zoysia and Bermuda grass varieties are also being touted as “more shade resistant.“ But be aware that even these grass types will require a reasonable amount of sunlight to thrive and maintain good color, thickness, and quality.
What Else Can You Do?
– Proper pruning of your trees by cutting lower and decayed limbs, bring in the canopy and thin some branches out – anything you can do to increase sunlight while keeping your trees healthy.
– Create tree rings around the base of your trees where lawns are not going to prosper.
– In extremely shaded conditions, forget about growing grass and look at alternative ground covers such as sharp-looking mulches, rock, a slate walkway, ground covers and other ornamental plants. Be creative and before long your trees and lawn will be thriving and living in harmony.