Most types of grass prefer open sunlight and do not grow well in the shade. All varieties require sunlight to produce food through the photosynthesis process. Plus, grass competes with the trees for the moisture and nutrients in the soil. Trees also have less air movement underneath them, so there is a greater chance for disease to occur.

Shade Tolerant Grasses

If you are determined to grow grass under and around trees you need to use a shade tolerant grass. In the Edmonton area, Fine Fescue is your best bet. However, Fine Fescue does require at least a 50% exposure to sunlight to thrive. This sunlight does not need to be direct, any light is fine, but the less light the area receives, the less the grass will perform.

Grass Under Spruce and Pine

As many homeowners have noticed, grass growing under conifers (trees with needles) does not do as well as it does under most deciduous (trees with leaves) trees. Along with the shade, a lack of moisture, nutrients and less air movement, these trees have one extra weapon, needle cast. When these trees drop their needles, the soil around the tree increases in acidity. Grass does not grow well in acidic soil. Once again, it is just another form of defense trees will use to compete with other plant life.

Growing Grass in the Shade

One thing you can do to grow grass in the shade is to use a shade tolerant grass such as Fine Fescue. Removing lower branches and a light pruning of the inner growth would allow more sunlight to penetrate the lawn below. If you are mowing under the trees, keep the grass longer to leave more leaf blade available to increase the grass' chance at photosynthesis. These areas also require more water during dry spells to compensate for the amount the trees will be using. Fertilization is recommended as generally the grass is under stress for most of the year.

For more information, call the professionals at Ace of Blades at 818-LAWN (818-5296),
or e-mail us at paul@aceofblades.ca