How to Grow Grass Beneath Trees


Growing a lush covering of grass in shady areas requires a different approach than growing grass in the sun. In order to grow grass under trees, the area must be exposed to sunlight at a rate of 50 percent throughout the day. This can be achieved by the area receiving partial sun throughout the entire day, or receiving full sun for half the day. You must also choose a grass seed variety that is tolerant of shade. A mixture of fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, at a 2-to-1 ratio, respectively, is recommended.

Step 1

Prune the lower branches of the tree or trees you wish to plant grass under. Removing low-hanging branches will increase the light exposure of the area underneath the tree.

Step 2

Fertilize the area. Shaded grass needs half the amount of fertilizer that sun-exposed grasses do to grow. Fertilize at a rate of 1/2 lb. of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of planting area. Mix the fertilizer into the soil well with a pitchfork or rototiller.

Step 3

Plant the grass seed. Set the broadcast seeder to disperse the grass seed at a rate of 3 to 4 lbs. of grass seed per 1,000 square feet.

Step 4

Keep the soil most, but not saturated, until the grass seed germinates and sprouts above the soil.

Step 5

Water established grass deeply once per week during the hot, summer months. Decrease this amount to one thorough watering once every 10 to 14 days during the cooler months of late summer and fall.

Step 6

Set your lawn mower to a height of 3 inches when mowing the grass underneath the trees. Grass growing in shaded areas need more surface area in order to receive enough sunlight for photosynthesis.

Step 7

Remove all leaf debris on a regular basis. Leaf cover will smother the grass growing underneath trees. Speedy removal on a continual basis, until all the leaves have fallen, is essential.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not less the grass grow to more than 4 1/2 inches between mowing. Fescue grass tends to lie down when it reaches this height and makes mowing difficult.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer
  • Grass seed
  • Pitchfork or rototiller
  • Water
  • Lawn mower


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Grass in Shady Places
  • University of Missouri Extension: Growing Grasses in Shade

Who Can Help

  • Shade Tolerant Ground Covers
Keywords: shade loving grass, grass under trees, growing grass

About this Author

Sophia Darby is a former professional hairstylist who has spent the last six years writing hair-related articles for both online and print publications. Her work has appeared in Celebrity Hairstyles Magazine, as well as multiple websites.