Campus News

Trees and turf can thrive together

It’s a good time to add new trees to the landscape, but before putting shovel to dirt, Timothy Daly, an agricultural and natural resource agent with the Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension office, suggests making sure new trees won’t compete with the lawn for soil or moisture.

Excessive shade from trees can cause the grass growing around them to thin out. Certain turf types and varieties can tolerate limited sunlight better than others. However, they still require a minimum of four to six hours of sunlight daily. Bermuda grass cannot tolerate shade, but fescue, zoysia and St. Augustine are tolerant to some shade. Turf shouldn’t be planted in complete shade.

Raise the mowing height for grass growing under trees or in shady areas to allow the grass to grow taller. Longer grass blades increase photosynthesis, which produces more carbohydrates to compensate for the reduced amount of sunlight.

As an alternative to turfgrass, install shade tolerant shrubs, groundcovers, perennials or just apply mulch. Apply mulch, like wood chips or pine straw, to areas under trees. To avoid rot, do not pile mulch at the base of tree trunks. A mulched area around a tree reduces damage from equipment and reduces compaction. Lawn-care equipment can damage trees by scraping trunks or branches. This causes soil compaction resulting in root damage.