The Q&A Archives: dirt for a yard :(

Question: I hate my back yard!!!! I have a huge maple tree in the center. It's great for shading the house...but I have very,very little to no grass...I want grass under my toes!!!! One problem I know I have is my back yard and parking pad is on a slight downward sloap towards my house..when it rains, I get the run off from the alley. Aside from having everything leveled and filled in (very costly), what kind of grass seed can I plant and when. Even some of the roots from the tree are coming up because of the dirt just washing away. HELP :)

Answer: I can't promise you grass in your backyard, but there are a few things you can plant that will at least cover the bare soil. The problem with trying to grow grass under a maple tree is that the tree casts too much shade for grass to grow well and maples have lots and lots of surface roots as well as big anchor roots. The surface roots will compete with other plants for moisture and nutrients. And, they will win because there are so many of them. So basically, the soil is dry and conditions are shady, which is not conducive to healthy lawns. There are some evergreen groundcovers you can plant which will grow well in dry shade and will also help cover up the bumpy soil surface without harming the roots of your maple. You can grow periwinkle (Vinca), kinnikinnick, pachysandra, or creeping oregon grape beneath your tree. These are evergreen and attractive and thrive in dry shade.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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