Planting Under A Pine Tree - Knowledgebase Question

Bloomington, IN
Question by mcbridemj
January 20, 2001
We just recently bought our home last spring. We have two very large and very old pine trees in our front yard. The grass under the trees is dead. I have tryed to grow grass there unsuccessfully. It seems that the ground is rock hard.
Is there anything I can grow under these trees to fill in this area. Or do to the ground to grow grass?


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Answer from NGA
January 20, 2001

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The soil beneath pines tends to be on the acidic end of the pH scale because of the needles they drop. Another problem associated with growing plants under pines is that the trees have fibrous roots near the soil surface which will compete with any other plant for moisture and nutrients. Additionally, the canopy of pines effectively divert rainwater so things are usually pretty dry directly under the trees. Now that you have a little background information on why it's so difficult to grow plants under pines, you're better equipped to make the right plant choices. Look for plants that grow well in acidic soils, have shallow roots, grow in partially shady locations, and don't mind dry conditions. Some of the plants that will adjust to these conditions include Artemisia, Erigeron karvinskianus (Santa Barbara Daisy), California Poppy, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Limonium, Evening Primrose (Oenothera), Penstemon, Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy), Salvia, Santolina (Lavender Cotton), Stonecrop, Campanula and Ferns of all kinds.

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