Does anyone have any idea what we can do with is front yard nightmare?

grass will not go because of the pine trees. Any thoughts or ideas would help me so much.
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  70 answers
  • Nancy Hand Nancy Hand on Jun 10, 2013
    Your going to need some top soil to cover the roots then lay sod, and keep watered.
  • Melinda Melinda on Jun 10, 2013
    You need some landscaping. Something tall on each corner like a Crepe Myrtle, some lower bushes across the front. Cut the current bush back. You could put some retaining blocks in across the front and add dirt to cover roots. Add Shade loving plants. Check out my blog for some ideas,
  • Linda Young Linda Young on Jun 10, 2013
    I think covering the roots can kill the tree, so try planting Ajuga, Pachysandra, or Ivy. But watch, they can be invasive and grow to where you don't want them.
    • See 1 previous
    • Ashley Jade Epperson Ashley Jade Epperson on Feb 25, 2015
      Please don't think I am being rude either. I hate it when people are rude on here. I just read ur comment and worried for u and Amy both. If I could go back in time and have some of my trees cut down... I would. My dad says they are an energy saver but it's so short term. I'm spending more than I ever have or will be able to save now on septic work and foundation work. So not worth it in the long run.
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 10, 2013
    Cut trees, pressure wash house, lay sod. Cut those over sized bushes in front of the house or pull them out. Replace the bushes w/gardenia (they are evergreens). Chop up those roots & try to get as many out as you can before you sod. Seeding won't work. Nothing will EVER grow until you get those trees out. Get em gone. Just knotch them so they don't fall on the house & have the guy cutting have a heavy duty pull rope around that tree, so another BIG guy or truck can encourage it to fall AWAY from the house. Call around for pallets of sod from sod farms to save $$$. Seeding will not work. My husband & I have cut bigger trees than this, in front of the house, so this is doable. You just have to know what you are doing. Get a major chain saw, 2 Mexican guys from Atlanta hwy. (ask them if they know how to cut down a big tree first).
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Jun 10, 2013
    @Virginia Can't any qualified men or woman cut their trees down? Why would they need 2 Mexican guys from Atlanta? Especially since @Amy Ward Stanley is from Athens AL ?
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 10, 2013
    welllll, I was looking to do it on the cheap.... if she had some "qualified men" around I thought she would already know that. lol I thought she said Athens, GA... oh dear, yes, you are right she is in AL! ROAD TRIP? (no?).... didn't think so. We've used Mexican guys off the hwy to do some stuff around here. They worked hard. There just were no guys willing to get really down & dirty for $10 an hour. So, that was my thinking (when it has to be done on a budget).
  • Nicky Blakeney Nicky Blakeney on Jun 10, 2013
    I agree the trees need to go, beside killing the grass, they block the view of and from the house. I don't think that Virginia thought about where the house is located, but I would say get a professional to cut them. Check with your city Government or the utility companies, they may be able to cut the trees or recommend some one to do it. There are also people (here anyway) that can grind up the stumps and get them out of the way. If possible a retaining wall would be nice but another idea would be to level the yard where the trees are and add 2 or 3 step downs from the right corner of the house curved toward the front and let them come to nothing and fill with flowers, etc, accent with steps, a water feature, and/or a birdbath. The Large bush at the front could be moved to the right corner of the house, a tall slim scrub to the left of the window, and a matching tree at the left corner of the house, with low flowers & plants with borders between. In your part of the country Azaleas are always a beautiful addition so edge the drive and the land line on the right with them to frame the yard and house. Now all you have to supply is the money and the work. lol Have a great Summer.
  • Lori J Lori J on Jun 10, 2013
    Could landscape up a bit with a short retaining wall and backfill with top soil to level things out a bit?Is there something about the needles that kills the grass?
  • Kimberly Barney Kimberly Barney on Jun 10, 2013
    With the slope of the yard, I believe you would do best to add a few short retaining walls across the front at different heights making planting areas between the walls which could be made with railroad ties before you do anything else. Then I would add bring in some top soil to fill these new planting areas and cover the area under the trees with mulch placing some hardscape (i.e. birdbath, birdhouses, large boulders, seating).
  • Patricia W Patricia W on Jun 10, 2013
    Love the retaining wall idea. Remember. what you plant near the exposed roots of that tree, if they are active live roots, will suck moisture from lawn and plants. Plant acid loving shrubs, like Rhodies, azalias, any of those. The needles from the tree are excellent food for some plants! Take advantage of the tree and what it has to offer. Too many people just cut them down. Think about the carbon that conifers and evergreens absorb. Unless the tree is a hazard to your home.
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Jun 10, 2013
    @Virginia I think you missed my point. By telling @Amy Ward Stanley to get 2 Mexicans was a bit of a racist comment by insinuating that you can pay "Mexicans" less money to do a job.
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 10, 2013
    LOL, now Mary..... how long did you let that roll around in your head before you typed? I suspect not long. Now, go get a cold drink and sit your fanny down and wait for your husband to come home to pick on. (I suspect the children & Mexicans have run off on ya).
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Jun 10, 2013
    I just don't think it was very nice to label one nationality. Here on Hometalk there are people from all over the world and your comment may have insulted someone. By the way I'm am not of Mexican decent but I would never call out one nationality. Case closed.
    • Bgu61703439 Bgu61703439 on Apr 08, 2022

      People today are always looking for reasons to be offended. I'm sure Virginia was not being racist.

  • Carolyn L Carolyn L on Jun 10, 2013
    I had the same problem with the pines in my yard, I had them removed, stumps ground and am getting ready to put in a paver circle drive. Our houses look so similar, I'll be watching you for ideas. Good Luck to us.
  • Dale B Dale B on Jun 10, 2013
    I am a landscaper in Tyler, Texas and we have very similar problems with pines. It does not hurt to remove a couple of the exposed roots. I would do a short retaining wall several feet away from the trees and then backfill with good soil being careful not to cover tree roots with more than a couple inches of soil within 3-4' from the tree. Then you could do a free form bed around the trees and fill with acid loving plants like azaleas, camellia, or even hydrangeas if you have enough shade from the pines. Feel free to go to my Blackstone Landscaping page on Facebook if you need planting info or have more questions... Happy Gardening.
  • Mish Ravan Mish Ravan on Jun 10, 2013
    Cut the pine trees, then go from there....we had this problem..had to get rid of some trees then build up the yard a tad...still have some issues but way better now.
  • Jenny@birdsandsoap Jenny@birdsandsoap on Jun 11, 2013
  • Barbara Passaro Barbara Passaro on Jun 11, 2013
    I agree...get rid of the trees and grind down the stumps(you'll be happy you did) . We did that last year and have a beautiful front lawn now. Maybe once the lawn comes in you might want to do a planter wall with some ornamental's. Good luck!
  • Susan Cryor Susan Cryor on Jun 11, 2013
    pine trees have shallow roots and can come down in a good storm. I personally love them, we have 89 of them, some in the back yard, on three sides and the rest in the front yard. They were carefully planted two in a line the entire way, 25 years ago. But because yours are SO tall, they might prove to be a hazard to your home. I would talk to your insurance company, homeowners about the possible threat to your home. Especially with those roots being exposed. Also, we were advised that we would NEVER be able to grow grass under them, as the soil is to acid. So I planted myrtle, it is not fussy, blooms blue flowers and is a deep green ground cover. We bought this house in Sept....none of the trees had been taken care of, dead branches laying to the ground. First project was to get a professional arborist in to consult. In Maine, you have to have an arborist cut trees. Anyhow he is the one who advised about no grass. Looks like sandy soil, Irish moss is a sandy soil lover....ground cover
  • Amy Ward Stanley Amy Ward Stanley on Jun 11, 2013
    thanks for all the Advice! My sister and I inherited this house when my father passed away and were trying to fix it up in order to put it on the market. Will update when we decide what to do.
  • Sara R Sara R on Jun 11, 2013
    We had a house in the mountains of AZ where the whole yard was shaded by pines. Rye grass grew beautifully because its low sun and my horses loved "mowing" it for us :)
  • Vicky Evans Vicky Evans on Jun 11, 2013
    Dale B has a very good plan. Don't cut down the trees, they are a good selling point if you landscape around them. It appears they have been there a long time so the soil is thoroughly acidified by the pine needles. If you cut them down you will need to either replace the soil or put massive amounts of something on it to make it alkali enough to grow grass. There are ground covers & shrubs that love acidic soil. Eliminate any sparse grass by cutting a clear edge between the dirt & thick lawn Put in acid loving plants & put down a nice looking bark or stone mulch to cover bare spots. Make it look as maintenance free as possible, buyers love that.
  • Vicky Evans Vicky Evans on Jun 11, 2013
    Mary I. you are right. Virginia's comment is very racist. Her attitude that it is ok to pay a "Mexican" less than a good ole southern white boy (according to her post they are all lazy) for hard work is not an admirable trait either. It appears from her nasty little post to you in a southern drawwwwl about sitting down & having a cold drink etc that she is not a very nice person all the way around.
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Jun 11, 2013
    Thanks @Vicky Evans. I appreciate your support :) I didn't want to come off as a prude but I do feel that an open forum like Hometalk is not the place to be labeling certain nationalities.
  • CindyandGeorge Schaeffer CindyandGeorge Schaeffer on Jun 11, 2013
    Mary I. and Vicky Evans are both correct. The Guidelines for Hometalk are to be "nice." There's nothing "nice" about saying "Hay let's get a couple Mexican's to do it cheap." I'm not Mexican but I am a Southerner - through and through, and that is not only mean spirited but just plain bad manners.
  • Design OCD Design OCD on Jun 11, 2013
    We had this problem in our backyard and put a shade garden bed underneath it with a little retaining wall.
  • Miriam Illions Miriam Illions on Jun 11, 2013
    Hi everyone, Hometalk asks that members keep things friendly and respectful at all times. You can read our guidelines here: Thank you all for your help and advice and please refrain from further comments on this thread that are not related to Amy's question.
  • S. Mundell S. Mundell on Jun 11, 2013
    oh, my people....let it go! She said she didn't mean it disrespectfully. Just drop it... I'm sure the person who was asking for advice has gotten more abt that reply than what she initially asked advice for!
  • S. Mundell S. Mundell on Jun 11, 2013
    We have the same problem....but I'd rather not cut them they help with keeping the house cooler in the summer. I'm trying ajuga as ground cover but it takes awhile to grow. I Ve got some money coin growing in some of the more shaded areas of the back yard. We have 45 trees in our lot but I'm gonna keep as a many as we can...everyone else has chopped theirs down.:( Hope this helps.;)
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Jun 11, 2013
    we just fixed our front yard two months ago. We have 60+ pine trees, so we put pine straw around the trees and then sodded the rest with tall fescue. It added amillion dollars worth of look to our yard. You will probably spend as much in seed as you would if you buy sod and put it down yourself.
  • on Jun 11, 2013
    We used 10 yards of mulch then planted knock out roses, junipers and boxwoods...grass would not grow but mulch looks great and plants are doing well.
  • Susan Cryor Susan Cryor on Jun 12, 2013
    we put down straw under our pines in the yard, as we have clay soil and dogs like to go WAY back to do their "duty"....the clay and pine needles became a problem in their paws. NOW I have straw growing under those trees! Not happy about it! Mow or kill it? Make sure you get the straw that has been treated not to germinate!
  • Brenda Cantrell Brenda Cantrell on Jun 12, 2013
    line the bare spot with big rocks or anything that suit you, fill in the bare spot with pea gravel, find very large pots, put your plants in the pots and bury them half way into the ground, some plants will live a long time in pots, azela's, monkey grass, there are different colors and types, Hosta's, they also have different types and colors, decorated with plants and add some thing you would like as decoration [examolr, a wagon wheel, plow, milk can with address numbers] anything that you like, gnomes whatever just make it your style,
  • Peg Peg on Jun 12, 2013
    It depends on the goal you're trying to reach. Do you want a lawn or do you prefer gardens with color and texture? The grass will not grow under the trees as you have learned. If you still want them for shade, then a shade garden with acid loving plants may be the way to go. If the soil is poor and hard, you'll need to get it healthy. Mulch, mulch, mulch. If the area is too big for one big raised shade garden, how about adding a piece of garden art or small brick patio with a park bench, something simple, not expensive.
  • Adrienne Sajecki Adrienne Sajecki on Jun 12, 2013
    I would make a raised palanting bed.. You could use any type of stone boarder,add some good soil, azaleas, hydrangeas ,or any shade part sun plants you love and mulch with pine straw
  • Neckster Niks Neckster Niks on Jun 12, 2013
    turn the area under the trees into a luscious paradise with palms and undergrowth to hide the root system.. tradescanthia? is wonderful for covering and giving a nice tiny leaf effect as undergrowth around other shrubs.. camillas philodendrons etc.. sorry for spell mistakes on plant naming..
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 13, 2013
    shhh, it's me again.... about the "Mexicans".... um they did a good job at my house. Ya all that want to take it over the line are reading your own minds into it. I happen to like Mexicans, if you don't...well, you keep on keeping on. I'd hire Chinese if they were standing on our street corners looking for work (but they aren't BLANCH, they aren't lookin). Bet they could get into those small places to get the weeds too! Oh dear.... there she goes again! Some of you need to just cool your jets and stop looking for a fight. But, if it's a fight you want, meet me outside in 5 minutes, if I'm not there....... start without me.
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 13, 2013
    Amy, those trees are tearing up your driveway. You have to cut them down. Hack up those roots. I'd help you, but I live too far away (close to the Mexicans). LOL I hope by now they have been cut down! So we can deal with foreign affairs on here.
  • Amy Ward Stanley Amy Ward Stanley on Jun 13, 2013
    We want to spend the least amount of money that we can but still make it look good for potential buyers
  • Laurie Laurie on Jun 13, 2013
    Well since you are trying to sell it, you don't have time for plants to mature. Order a truck load of mulch. Put a pre-fab pond on it and surround it with large rocks, blocks, or bricks to hide the sides. Place large potted plants on the backside of it. Place medium stones about two feet out on the sides, fill with dirt, and plant short variegated grass and hostas. Put a pump in it for a fountain effect and Wa-la, instant beauty.
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 14, 2013
    AMY! Are they still up? You have to cut them, there is no way around it....then power wash the house. You're going to lose the selling season. So... best just do it. Do it like I said, tie them off with really strong rope (or chain) to pull toward the street. You have to notch the trees so they fall toward the street not the house. If you mess up that is what you have the rope for to PULL! You'll need some strong guys....Once you got them down, then you'll have to hack up those roots to lay the sod. Nothing is going to grow there. It looks bad. Call around to sod farms, they are cheaper. Just have them deliver it in pallets & you lay it. You have to lay it the day it comes. Or it will die on you. We didn't even talk sprinklers so, get yourself one of those cheap fan ones (maybe 2 or 3 so you are not out there moving them around). Gardenia bushes grow from cuttings (I have a whole bunch) they are evergreens too. They would make it nicer in front of the house. The only other thing you could do is pine straw a circle around those nasty trees & go out with the pine straw then sod the rest, but you're just asking for trouble. That sod will eventually die. The trees got to go. Look: ; okay he shows you how to notch it. ; Watch a few videos. But, I'd tie it off just for insurance and have someone ready to pull it AWAY from the house. Cutting those trees is the easy part. Next you got to get sod. Use bark or pine straw around everything else. Cut, sod, power wash, then plant (look for evergreen little bushes for the front of the house).
  • Laurie Laurie on Jun 14, 2013
    I understand and respect your concern Virginia but unless an arborist can say the trees are weak I wouldn't cut them down. I have 10 ponderosa pines that are massive. They pose no problem and add beauty to the property. For a quick sale on a house I just feel the yard would look bare without the trees and many people will view the trees as an added bonus. As mentioned earlier in the replies, Rye Grass grows in shade. It will take a couple months to get a decent growth but I have rye planted in shady areas of my lawn.
  • Peg Peg on Jun 15, 2013
    Amy, you probably need to set a budget for this and go from there. When working with my clients on their projects, I ask for a budget first and then explore options of what can be done. What is "the least amount of money " to you on this? Getting a truck load or two of wood chips to cover it? In my area, we can get them for free form the local companies who need a place to dump them. That area is definitely in need of soil as the tree roots are exposed. I'll try to add a pic of a wood chip fill area that I added some blocks as a path to break it up. We found some old chairs and a table at a Tag Sale that the path will lead to.
  • Peg Peg on Jun 15, 2013
    Hope this helps Amy. Work with what you have, shade and acid soil. And the soil looks dry, common under lots of pines. Accent large spaces with garden decor, a bird bath, garden bench, bistro set. Be creative and upcycle a piece of junk like an old wheel barrow into a big planter.
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  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 15, 2013
    Laurie, I was telling Amy to cut her trees :-) Also, rye grass is like a quick green it dies off. I don't even think you could put it in now (it's used just to quick green in spring). It's a cool season grass.... Peg has something though. All that mulch w/like little garden areas.... and that little path she has going on. Draw it on paper (better yet take your home photo & use paint shop to work it). See how it looks.
  • Melissa Gutilla Melissa Gutilla on Jun 15, 2013
    I like the garden path idea. A pond wouldn't help much you have to many roots from the tree plus it would just end up looking nasty under the tree. Maybe add some topsoil and a few plants with your walkway and lay some stones to create a nice scene. Plus it would be cheap enough you could do yourself.
  • Jenny@birdsandsoap Jenny@birdsandsoap on Jun 16, 2013
    I would try to bring in gravel and river rocks to do something creative. Like weave them around and through the trees to look like a dry creek bed. No grass can grow, you can add a few landscaping plants,
  • Laurie Laurie on Jun 16, 2013
    You are right Virginia, rye is a cool weather grass, so it is too late to plant. I also like Peg's idea to get the free wood chips. I had totally forgotten that the city here gives them for free.
  • Laurie Laurie on Jun 16, 2013
    Amy, if you wouldn't mind, when you make a decision could you keep us updated? I'm really interested to see what you come up with.
  • Virginia Virginia on Jun 17, 2013
    Just saw a neighbors side yard, no grass. She totally pined strawed, then put some boulders (really big) then planted a few more pines scattered... but looked more planned (though of you). I'll try to get picture of it. Was driving by after fathers day dinner with family~ raining so.... when I can get to it. It WAS like Peg's above.
  • Anneinspiring Anneinspiring on Jun 18, 2013
    A dry garden would look amazing, may I add the Climate in South Africa may be different. Hard Landscaping (Pot, stepping stones, crusher stones and a few structured plants such as Cycad revoluta, would give the space a total new dimension.
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  • Teresa Teresa on Jun 18, 2013
    If you put lime down and the put a shade grass in the grass will grow. When we bought our home there were two very large pine trees and no grass I have live here for 20 years and I have grass under them because I put lime down the lime make the soil less acidic (sweet) I do put it down each year because the trees loose there needles. you can also add the lime down in your vegetable garden also but do it in the fall your garden in the spring will be great.
  • Rainyjane Rainyjane on Jun 18, 2013
    If you're looking to sell lay some topsoil and sod. Grass wont grow on that hard pack clay.
  • Amy Ward Stanley Amy Ward Stanley on Jun 18, 2013
    I will update everyone soon..thank you all for all the great ideas. My sister and I do not live where the house is so we try to go on our free weekends to do the work but we had to start with the inside and we have not started on the outside yet but hope to get started real soon!
  • Vivian Clay Vivian Clay on Jun 18, 2013
    The pines are to close to the house. They have very shallow roots. A good wind and they will be on your house. Ropes won't hold a tree. That's very, very dangerous. You need a licensed tree surgeon. I know, my son was a logger and tree surgeon over 20 yrs. He cut my pines down.
  • Cynthia Cynthia on Jun 20, 2013
    I have a pine in my front island and I built up the soil around it about 12 inches. It's doing great and the plants surrounding it are as well.
  • Cynthia Cynthia on Jun 20, 2013
    This is not my garden, but as you can see, plenty of plants can fill around it. Personally, I would cut it down as pines always blow over and with roots already out of the ground it would be an easy cleanup.
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  • Hilliriah Jacobs Hilliriah Jacobs on Sep 27, 2013
    i don't know much about pine trees but a nice bench around the tree and some river stones and some potted plants
  • Bootsie Nores Bootsie Nores on Oct 06, 2013
    Cut them down. I live in the south and they can really be bad. Have all the roots removed. Add some top soil and then seed real good. Then in the spring plant your grass. Along the side walk plant some nice full brushes to help hole the soil in place. You can plant a nice tree with shallow roots but no pine trees. Your really need to be remove ASAP or they will be on top of the house be for you know. Then plant some flowers around your tree. In front of the house make a nice flower bed and in the center a bench would be nice, a lager flower pot with water coming out the top or bird bath.
  • CindyandGeorge Schaeffer CindyandGeorge Schaeffer on Oct 08, 2013
    Any NEWS on this creation/work in progress??
  • Claire M Claire M on Jan 04, 2015
    I live in GA and my condo association planted a low maintenance ground cover to replace the lawn in front. I would contact my local State Extension Agent to find out what ground covers work for your area and find out what would be best suited for you. Mine took a year or so to take hold but is now filled in and maintenance free. Oh, lol, just saw that this post is from 2013, any updates?
  • Paul Hymes Paul Hymes on Feb 23, 2015
    My wife loves tree (spruce, pine, etc.) and we were struggling to get grass to grow in our yard with little luck until a friend said if you have grass that grows in shady areas then what you really need is lots of water. Our spruce trees are quite large and we were told that they take 500 gallons or more out of the ground per day. I sounded like a lot to me but I put up barrels (they can be made to look nice) at each down spout on our house and between them and lots of sprinkling every few days our pine needles have been replaced with lush green grass. After the first few years we were able to cut back on frequent watering, except during dry spells. Use water get grass, conserve on water get pine needles. Stump
  • Laura Laura on Feb 23, 2015
    Hostas are great to fill in under trees/shady areas. The soil will be a bit acidic because of the pine roots, but the Hostas would be fine.
  • Brenda Adams Brenda Adams on Mar 08, 2015
    Yes, I'm afraid the trees need to come down. With those roots like that, you will have a major problem---soon enough. Make sure the roots are also removed, or the tree will come back. Grind the cut trunk. Then you can plant grass.
  • Cheryle Fuller Cheryle Fuller on Aug 28, 2015
    We use a lot of monkey grass under our trees. also there is a small leaved ground cover that is used too. Cannot remember the name, but it is similar to jasmine.
  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Sep 05, 2016
    I cannot see the fir trees, are they old or in bad condition above? If they are ok then I would start towards the front with landscaping timbers or railroad ties and build a small retaining wall. You might want to make 2 tiers depending on how much of a drop that really is. Fill with dirt covering those exposed roots. Add plenty of lime to the dirt to reduce acidity. I have grown different nice ground covers etc in higher acid soil. Monkey grass is pretty too. Google plants that like high acid soil that grow in your area. See what you like and make your choices as to what you want to try.
  • Mary Ritzmann Mary Ritzmann on May 01, 2021

    You could always wait for the next tornado to take the trees out (that particular “solution” almost took out my house last year), but if they are healthy, I would keep them. Your main problem seems to be not the trees so much as the runoff. I believe you need some retaining walls and some topsoil. You need to talk to your local garden store guy to figure out what kind of gras grows best. We have clay soil where I live, too, and we have to aerate our grass every spring and we add some sand and healthy soil to sweeten it. The grass looks ghastly for a couple of weeks and then it springs back happier than ever.

  • Louise Louise on May 01, 2021

    How about planting hostas, ferns, azaleas and other shad plants. I also have a shady yard and that's what I did years ago to solve my problem. Try to design your plantings before you start buying. Hostas die away every winter but reappear the next spring and last until it's really cold. I'm in metro Atlanta so you'd need to find out if these plants would work well in your climate.

  • Bgu61703439 Bgu61703439 on Apr 08, 2022

    First you need to put some new topsoil down. You will probably need to add a lot of lime because the ph is lowered by decaying pine needles. The ph should be 6-7.