The Q&A Archives: Grassy Mess

Question: My yard has a mixture of sand and dirt and my grass doesn't or won't grow, it has low sunlight because of the trees. How/What can I get to make grass grow? What can I use to rid the weeds?

Answer: Unfortunately, lawn grasses just do not grow very well at all in shady areas, especially if there is competition from tree roots. You might want to consider using a shade tolerant groundcover such as English ivy, Vinca minor, Epimedium or similar plant instead. Prior to planting you would need to remove the existing grass/weeds. You could either dig them out or use an herbicide containing glyphosate (read and follow label directions) or smother them beneath a layer of newspaper sheets topped with several inches of organic mulch. At planting time loosen the soil over a generous area and mix in organic matter such as compost for each planting hole. After planting, water as needed to keep the soil slightly moist for the first year while the plants become established. Mulch between the plants with organic mulch year round to keep down weeds, reduce watering needs, and help feed the soil slowly over time. Good luck with your shady area!

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