How to Get Grass to Grow Under a White Spruce


Every lawn has room for ornamental trees and evergreens as well as lush green grass. Growing grass in the shaded areas under white spruce trees can be a challenge but is possible with planning and preparation. Fescue grasses grow best in the shade provided by the white spruce. Fescue seeds can be mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, among other seeds, to provide a thick lawn. White spruce evergreens grow to a spread of 15 feet, shading the ground underneath. The limbs of the white spruce lay very close to the ground without regular trimming. This provides a cover to any seed planted, preventing water and light from reaching the new growth.

Step 1

Prune the lower branches of the white spruce to allow more sunlight to penetrate the area. Remove limbs within 6 feet of the ground from the tree. Cut at the trunk base, leaving a small stub. Avoid cutting flush with the trunk to prevent disease and injury to the tree.

Step 2

Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer annually. The grass will grow slower in this area than the rest of the lawn and does not need feeding as frequently. Fill a hand spreader with fertilizer and spread evenly across the area under the white spruce tree. Water generously, leaving the soil moist. Test the soil under the white spruce twice yearly to determine the pH level of the soil. The white spruce will not be able to produce the acidic soil conditions that grass requires to thrive. Apply an acidic fertilizer twice annually, following the label directions.

Step 3

Maintain a clean area under the tree. Remove debris, leaves and pine needles often. Fallen items will kill the tender grass beneath the tree.

Step 4

Mow the grass when it is 3 inches or higher. Mow on a medium setting to promote growth. Mowing on a lower setting will scalp the ground and damage the sensitive grass.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer
  • Hand spreader
  • Rake
  • Mower


  • University of Florida: Growing Turfgrass in the Shade
  • University of Missouri Extension: Grasses in Shade: Establishing and Maintaining Lawns in Low Light
  • University of Minnesota: Growing a Lawn in Shady Places
  • Ohio Departpemt of Natural Resources: White Spruce
Keywords: grass spruce, grass under tree, grow grass tree

About this Author

Christina Wheeler has been a professional freelance writer since 2007. She lends her expertise in animal care, gardening and home improvement to online publications such as Garden Guides and eHow. Wheeler studied business management at Ohio University.