How to Grow Grass Under a Pine Tree

Pine trees are a great addition to your yard for privacy, ornament, or tree species diversity to contrast with your yard’s other plant types. When your pine is in a grassy area, certain tree characteristics can make growing grass under it challenging but not impossible.

Why Does Grass Not Grow Around Pine Trees?

When left to nature, grass doesn’t grow around most types of pine trees for a few reasons:

  • Many pine trees have low branches and cast dense shade over the ground below them. Grass is a sun-loving plant, and even shade-tolerant species need a few hours of sunlight per day to grow.
  • Pine trees are evergreen trees, maintaining a dense coverage of leaves or needles year-round. They shed their needles regularly, creating a thick cover over the soil below the tree.
  • Pines love nitrogen and will absorb it in abundance. This leaves less nitrogen available for any grass, which needs enough to grow blades and produce chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
  • Neutral to slightly acidic soil is the preference for most pine trees. The tree’s very deep roots tend to absorb much of the water present, making it difficult to keep the topsoil moist enough for grass.

Can You Grow Grass Around Pine Trees?

Grass will grow under pine trees when you take the steps to coordinate the health of your grass with that of your tree. Making sure the ground gets enough sunlight, nutrients, and water for both the pine and grass should keep them in good shape.

Can You Grow Grass Around Pine Trees

Sunlight For Grass

Pruning the branches on the lower part of the tree will provide sun to the ground that you want to cover, allowing the grass to grow under the pine. Make sure to rake up pine needles regularly, like you would the leaves of any kind of tree, since the accumulation of needles and pinecones will also block sunlight from reaching the ground and can smother existing grass.

Pruning low branches will also help you reach the grass when mowing the lawn. Be sure to avoid damaging the trunk and bark with the lawnmower or weed eater when trimming grass close to a tree.

Balancing Soil For Pines And Grass

Pine trees are inefficient with nitrogen, soaking up a lot of it from the ground to store in their dense needles for winter dormancy. Regularly monitoring the soil pH, you can apply a normal nitrogen fertilizer for grass under pine trees to keep the topsoil hospitable to the grass.

When you apply a nitrogen fertilizer, however, the tree may quickly soak it up. Many nitrogen fertilizers are made with ammonia, and the tree’s absorption of nitrogen will leave behind hydrogen, which will make the soil more acidic. The most popular way to neutralize soil under pine trees is to add lime, and using a granular, slow-release fertilizer will help the nitrogen stay in the topsoil longer.

Pines are efficient in their water use and have very deep roots that allow them to reach several feet down for groundwater. For this reason, many pines thrive in soils that drain well and will be in competition for water with nearby plants.

On the other hand, most grasses prefer moist topsoil, so grass below pine trees may need to be watered a little more to keep both the pine and grass well-hydrated.

What Kind Of Grass Grows Well Under Pine Trees?

The right type of grass will do fine under a pine tree, especially if the maintenance guidelines are followed. Shade-tolerant, cool-season grasses that grow in neutral to slightly acidic and/or dry soil will be the best choice for under your pine.

These include fescue, rye, and Kentucky blue grass. Overseeding with warm-season grass during the summer will keep the coverage thick and green during the hotter months of the year as well.

What Kind Of Grass Grows Well Under Pine Trees

How To Grow Grass After Pine Tree Removal?

If you’ve recently removed a pine tree, the soil might be dry and acidic. To plant grass where the tree once was, make sure all the root fragments have been removed from the soil, then till the area to aerate it from any compaction that may have happened from the removal. Check the pH level, and add fertilizer to the soil before planting the grass.

Finally, before planting new seed or laying down sod, water the ground so it will be moist to accept the new seeds and support healthy germination.