The Q&A Archives: maple tree

Question: All the grass has died in the shade of a maple tree. The dirt under the tree is cracked. I would like to grow grass under the tree. What do I need to do. Grass was there when we moved her 18 years old. I think maybe the drought effected the grass. My husband thinks we need to cut down the tree to have grass, I hope not. What do you think?

Answer: Grass always has a hard time growing beneath trees. Shade is one factor, dry soil is the other. The roots of trees drink up all the moisture and the grass roots simply cannot compete. However, if you water more frequently in the shady areas under the tree and if you choose a shade tolerant grass type, you should be able to maintain a green lawn for most of the year. However - most shade tolerant grasses are cool season grasses and will die out during warm weather (July and August). If you want to reseed, use fine fescue. The most common turf-type fine fescues include creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra), Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra var. commutata), hard fescue (Festuca longifolia), and sheep fescue (Festuca ovina). These species are used extensively for lawns, grounds, and parks in your part of the state. They are ideal for low maintenance turfs. During cool weather (and when properly maintained), the fine fescues produce an attractive, uniform stand with a medium-green to dark-green color. As a group, the fine fescues tolerate soils of low fertility and low pH, droughty soils, and shaded conditions. If you decide to grow turf beneath your tree expect to overseed every year or two as the turf thins out.

Best wishes with your landscape.

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