Growing grass under evergreen trees - Knowledgebase Question

Evanston, Il
Question by ckettler
March 29, 2010
Is it possible to keep grass growing under an evergreen (pine) tree? I have a large tree creating almost full shade and every time I try to grow grass under it, the grass dies. What ground cover can I grow?

Answer from NGA
March 29, 2010


Grass always has a hard time growing under pine trees. The roots have to compete with the tree for moisture and nutrients, the shade is often too dense for grass, and the soil acidity (from fallen needles) can overwhelm grass plants. Evergreen trees tend to keep rain from falling down to the soil, too, making the area directly under the tree rather dry. In my yard I use Ajuga (Carpet Bugle) and Vinca minor (Periwinkle) under my pine trees. Both will take everything a pine can throw at it and still thrive. Ajuga will take some foot traffic (or wheel traffic) and come right back. Vinca spreads by vining and would not be suitable if you need to cross over it. Canadian Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) and Barrenwort (Epimedium) are two other suggestions to try.

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