Asked on Aug 1, 2013

Can I grow grass?

Catherine SmithThe Garden Frog with C Renee


We have a VERY LARGE willow oak in our front yard. It sucks all the moisture out of ground and can't grow grass. What is the life expectancy on these trees? This one is about 30 yrs old. Would dwarf mondo grass look okay? I already have nice landscaping and mulched areas that can't really be changed.
2 answers
  • Karen it is still a baby. My suggestion is to put in a new bed surrounding the oak and try the Mondo grass (which R.Adam Q is correct) or use Liriope which drought tolerant and can fill in the area around the tree in a couple years and then use pots to fill in for color. If you really want grass, then you can do what I did (I have massive oaks in my suburban yard in VA): I had hard dry clay which a weed didn't even grow so I hauled in horse manure a few times with each load (over a course of a month) I tilled and tilled before and after rains. I now have green grass in my front yard but beds surrounding all oaks. Then I used sod~in the long run I found sod to be cheaper and less work than seeding and reseeding. I fertilize and lime a lot. the grass is not a large area but at least my front yard has some grass (the beds make up more than 1/2 the front but it is balanced).

  • Catherine Smith
    on Aug 3, 2013

    You can also interplant with bulb flowers, i.e. daffodils, hyacinths etc, which will bloom early and die back by the time the liriope starts to bloom. Consider alternatives to grass, since that oak will suck up all available nutrients. I've seen several attractive bench type set ups made to fit around the tree using pots of annuals and perennials as filler. They are lovely.

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