How to Do Shade Gardening Under Pine Trees


Shade gardening requires plants that thrive in full or partial shade. Growing under pine trees requires plants that prefer a highly acidic soil. For best results, choose plants that benefit from having automatic pine needle mulch applied whenever the pine sheds. While the selection of plants that grow in both conditions is somewhat limited, there are a few options that will thrive in this environment.

Step 1

Trim any branches on your pine tree that are low to the ground. Even shade and acid-loving plants require some headroom, unless you will only be growing ground covers.

Step 2

Dig compost into the soil around the base of the pine tree. This will benefit both your new plants and your pine.

Step 3

Plant azaleas, hostas, astilbe or ferns underneath the pine tree. All of these plants love shade and acid, and have foliage that will provide visual interest.

Step 4

Plant shade-loving ground covers, such as English ivy, lily-of-the-valley, or periwinkle. Both lily-of-the-valley and periwinkle produce striking flowers.

Step 5

Dig holes that are twice as deep and wide as the root balls of the transplants as you plant them. This will give the roots room to establish themselves and grow healthy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Trying to neutralize the acidity level of the soil around your pine tree will not work. If anything, it may harm your pine tree. Do not attempt to dig soil amendments in with hopes that you can alter the soil enough that you can grow other shade-loving plants. Be careful about rainfall. In lots or parcels of land that are comparatively low, pine trees have a tendency to form ponds when there are heavy rains. Very few plants tolerate being flooded. You may want to observe your pine first to make sure that this is not a problem for you. You can try some plants, such as English Ivy, but flooding makes growth in that area incredibly tricky.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Compost


  • The Garden Lady: Plants that Love Both Acid and Shade
  • ArcaMax: Ground Cover Under Pine Trees
Keywords: pine shade gardening, growing under pines, gardening under pines

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.