The Black Walnut Curse - Knowledgebase Question

St Paul, Mi
Question by lauriestpl
February 28, 2010
For 22 years I have struggled to grow grass near my 4 Blk.Wlnt.trees, much of the area is now ground cover, hosta, fern etc. This year I plan to work in a great deal of compost and lay sod, also trim more branches. Will it work? Any other soil additives and/or tips? Seed does not come back well in spring. HELP !!!


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Answer from NGA
February 28, 2010

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I'm afraid you have a real challenge on your hands! Black walnut trees effectively stop other plants from growing by releasing a chemical called juglone. Couple that with the dry shade inherent beneath the trees and grass will have a difficult time growing grass. Even sod, with its established root system, will eventually be affected by the juglone. And, it's almost impossible to grow grass in the shade. So, limbing up the tree might provide more sunshine, but the juglone will still be there. I really think groundcovers are the way to go. Plant the turf in sunny areas away from the canopy of the tree and it should thrive.

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