We're having trouble getting grass to grow under our maple tree

by Rita
We live in Maryland - zone 7a. We had a lawn service for the past year who aerated, reseeded, fertilized, etc. and now we have less grass in that area under the maple tree in our backyard than before our lawn service. We canceled the lawn service and early this fall we put down Scott's lawn soil in that area after raking and cleaning everything up. Then we reseeded with tall fescue and watered. No seed sprouted in that area. We had a soil test done by the Maryland Extension Service. It showed nothing unusual. What are we doing wrong? Our front yard is zoysia and is the best grass we have. Would zoysia grow in a partly shaded area?

  10 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 27, 2017

    Did you apply seed staring fertilizer or top soil with starter fertilizer?

  • Julie Julie on Oct 27, 2017

    I gave up and landscaped the area with rock and added a few ferns etc. Looked great & ended the headache of trying to get grass to grow there.

  • Ellis Ellis on Oct 27, 2017

    Maple trees are notorious for not letting grass grow under them, as they are thirsty and have shallow root systems. I have a corner of my yard where grass won't grow because of a maple tree next door, and the roots extend under the fence. Find a ground cover that you like the looks of, and plant one of them. I like pachysandra, or perhaps sweet woodruff (galium odoratum), which gets tiny white flowers in spring and has a lovely scent. If the tree roots aren't too fierce, you might be able to plant some hosta, but will need to keep them watered.

    Your other alternative is to just create a mulch circle around the base of the tree.

  • T-Dawgie T-Dawgie on Oct 27, 2017

    I have also been going through a trial and error process with planting grass, and I've learned that the pigeons will eat up the grass seed like hogs at a buffet if you don't cover it. I used burlap and some big landscaping pins to cover the area while the seeds were germinating and the grass finally started coming up.

    In my experience, grass seed needs to remain wet until it starts to germinate, so having irrigation to the area is essential. Not sure what your sprinkler system is like, but that's worth making sure the area gets enough water.

    I know that there are species of grass that do well in shaded areas like rye, and the seed you plant is also going to depend on the season. It's best to check at a nursery in your area because they're going to carry seeds that are best adapted to your climate/ Hardiness Zone.

    I would spread a good fertilizer first, then the seed, then a not too thick layer mulch with compost material and manure on top of the seeds, and you should see the grass come up in about three weeks.

  • Teri Teri on Oct 28, 2017

    If the tree branches are high enough...you can do two different things or even combine. Build a bench around the trunk of the tree- build a raised floral bed under the tree or do part and part! Makes a great little relaxation place.

  • Rita Rita on Oct 28, 2017

    no, we didn't. I was wrong when I said the extension service didn't show anything unusual. We have high phosphorous, so I was hesitant to fertilize more. Also, the Scott's lawn soil contained fertilizers.

  • Inetia Inetia on Oct 29, 2017

    Sitting rooms work where grass won't.

  • Carole Carole on Oct 30, 2017

    You need a new landscaper. They should have know that grass will not grow under a maple. We surrounded ours with flag stones and put in shade loving plants. Periwinkle works well as do hostas. Or put down landscaping fabric and stone and use as a sitting area with shade loving potted plants and some decorations.

  • Karen Krysowaty Karen Krysowaty on Oct 30, 2017

    As our maple tree grew so did the shade area, we mulch and added hostas

  • George George on Oct 31, 2017

    Try a grass seed called Poa Trivialis,worked for me.