The Q&A Archives: Grass not growing under trees

Question: We have several spots on our lawn where we cannot grow grass. There are very mature trees on the lawn. I have been told that one cannot grow grass under trees, yet I see grass growing under trees all over. I live in Maine. Thanks for your suggestions.

Answer: It is difficult to grow a thick healthy turf in the shade and while there are some shade tolerant grasses, most will need to be reseeded every few years. Fescues are the most shade tolerant grasses. Lawn establishment in a shaded site is more likely to be successful if seeded in early fall (mid-August through September). The area then has the maximum length of time with the leaves off the trees. This should allow good root development. It is extremely important to continually remove the fallen leaves. Once the lawn is established, mow the grass to a height of two to 3 inches. The longer leaf blade will have a larger surface to gather sunlight. This will result in a stronger plant. Water only when it is necessary during prolonged dry periods. Apply one-half to one inch of water, not more than once a week. Place a few cans in the sprinkler pattern to measure the water depth. To reduce disease problems, water in the early part of the day so the grass will dry before nightfall. Following the above strategies should help your lawn grow nice and green under your shade trees. Hope so!

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