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How to Neutralize Soil Under Pine Trees

By Larry Parr ; Updated September 21, 2017
While a pine tree can add a nicely dramatic element to many yards, the needles which they drop are extremely acidic and can kill most grasses
Pine Tree Seedling image by Antonio Oquias from Fotolia.com

Grass and other plants stop growing under a pine tree for two primary reasons. One is the shade; the other is the extra acidity from pine needles that drop onto the soil and decompose. Grass grows poorly in acidic soil, so you'll have to neutralize the soil under your pine trees. This is easily accomplished by adding an alkaline soil amendment.

Rake all needles, bark and any wood chips from around your tree, using the rake. Needles and wood add acid to the soil under the tree.

Run an aerator under the tree. The aerator should be set to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Use care not to damage roots close to the surface. Use the aerator from the tree's drip line in; the drip line is where the tree's longest branches extend to.

Spread lime in the aerated area, using a lime spreader. Use 25 lbs. of lime per 1,000 square feet. A circle with a radius of 10 feet encloses an area of approximately 315 square feet.

Rake fallen pine needles so they do not add new acid to the soil.

Add approximately 25 lbs. of lime per 1,000 square feet each spring, using the lime spreader.


Things You Will Need

  • Rake
  • Aerator
  • Lime spreader
  • Lime


  • Wear a breathing mask when spreading lime.
  • Consult with your local nursery to determine the best shade-tolerant grass for your area.

About the Author


Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for television, everything from "Smurfs" to "Spider-Man." Today Parr train dogs and write articles on a variety of topics for websites worldwide.