How to Grow Grass Under a Tree


Grass creates a welcoming atmosphere to outdoor areas in many types of landscape designs. This common groundcover provides protection against soil erosion, as well as a surface for playing and relaxing. Some areas of the landscape present difficulties when establishing grass. Since most types of grass prefer sunny locations, shady areas pose a challenge for many homeowners and landscapers. Grow healthy grass in shady areas under trees by taking a few precautions while planting and maintaining your lawn.

Step 1

Remove the lowest branches of the tree with a limb saw or pruning shears. Thin out the branches by removing overgrown or diseased limbs throughout the tree. Remove these branches to allow a higher percentage of sunlight to filter through the leaves or boughs.

Step 2

Fertilize your tree with a commercial fertilizer specified for use on your individual type of tree. Tree roots often compete with grass roots for surface nutrients, eventually killing grass grown near tree roots. Avoid nutrient starvation in grass by supplying adequate amounts of nutrients required by your tree. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying tree fertilizers.

Step 3

Prepare the soil beneath the tree for your grass seeds. Remove leaves, twigs and existing vegetation with a shovel and a rake. Smooth the topsoil to provide a loose, even surface for your grass seeds.

Step 4

Purchase a variety of grass capable of growing in shady locations. Many types of fine-leaved fescues adapt to shady locations under trees. Select varieties like creeping red fescue and hard fescue. If you prefer a type of bluegrass, choose from shade-tolerant varieties such as Bristol, Bensun and Touchdown. Follow the package instructions when planting new grass seeds under your tree.

Step 5

Water your new grass seeds. Keep the surface of your soil slightly moist during germination and sprouting. Gradually taper off the frequency of watering to provide a couple of inches of water whenever the ground becomes dry. Avoid creating damp conditions under trees that encourage mildew development in lawns.

Step 6

Remove grass clippings when mowing the grass under your tree. Rake often during the fall to avoid leaf build-up under the tree. Use a leaf rake to avoid disturbing the delicate roots of grass grown in shady areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Limb saw or pruning shears
  • Tree fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Soil rake
  • Grass seed
  • Garden hose
  • Leaf rake


  • Iowa State University: Growing Grass in Shady Areas
  • University of Rhode Island: Growing Turf Under Shaded Conditions
  • University of Minnesota: Growing a Lawn in Shady Places
Keywords: grass under tree, shade grass, grow grass

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.