Sod Around Trees - Do I Sod Up To Tree?

Posted by George Bravos on

Sod under trees
Picture of sod installed to the tree trunk.

If you are a homeowner and have lawn, you know the feeling of wanting a full, green grass lawn around the whole backyard - a perfect sea of green for the family and pets to enjoy. We have all seen pictures of the perfect sod or grass. Perfectly lush green lawns, not a single corner unaccounted for by beautiful green sod. This look makes the area feel cleaner and sod can help hide any dirt making it very appealing to run the sod up directly to the tree like pictured above.

Sod Under a Tree

Homeowners and landscapers ask us can we install sod right up to the tree? Short answer yes you are welcome to but you generally do not want to be adding more soil around any tree base, we generally recommend keeping a distance of 6”- 8” from the tree trunk line. Yes, these may seem like strict and unconventional directions and as stated above you are welcome to install sod right up to the trunk when establishing the perfect lawn homeowners envision, but here is why we recommend this. 

Sod and Grass need for Sun

Sod or grass enjoys full sun, even the finer textured and soft types of grass like Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial rye. While these are cool season grasses, they are grown from our farms in direct sun. Can our sod types handle full sun? Yes, without a doubt. Our best selling fine textured lawn being a mixture of both our Blue Rye 50-50 50% each Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass. Any good farmer and plant person know the three main elements a plant need to survive are light, water and oxygen. So, as much as possible, sod or grass should be exposed to sunlight, which would be hard to do under the direct shade of a tree. 

bluegrass ryegrass sod
Above a Picture of Bluegrass Ryegrass mix in shady home.

All lawn types want at least 6-8 hours of sun a day, so, installing lawn that close to a tree will require much more maintenance and a high chance of not surviving the conditions. For example, depending on the time of year, sod directly under the tree would have significantly less sun, be exposed to debris from the tree and require more fertilizing. Ultimately, the sod would be negatively impacted by all the factors impeding photosynthesis through direct sunlight as well as the tree wanting the same nutrients in the soil around the area.

Grass lawns are hundreds of thousands of plants each growing separately, meaning if one area does not get direct sun, the plant as a whole will slowly over time begin to suffer. This is why seasonal over seeding will help aid in keeping lawns green. Fertilizing will ensure you give the plants more of the micro nutrients that help absorb and create food for plants. 

However, if you do decide to lay sod up to the tree trunk line, you should consider the following: How will this area be trimmed? How often will this area be trimmed? Additionally, how can I protect my tree when maintenance is done? Too often, we see heavy damage on tree cambium due to weed whackers/edgers being used and damaging the tree trunk. If your tree is young, I would not trim around it because it is susceptible to damage around the exterior base. Cutting by hand would be your best option in order to ensure careful and adequate care to the tree trunk and overall maintenance that will support both the tree and lawn beneath it. 

For areas that have larger trees or heavier shading we off two types of grass. For more foot traffic or for areas with pets we recommend shade blend. Lighter traffic areas will love the thinner Mow Free or creeping fescue, which holds the highest shade tolerance.

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  • My husband had this Shade Blend sod installed in our backyard a year ago, and we love it. And now we are planning to get some for the front yard next month. So excited!

    Stephanie Watson on
  • I have had my Shade Blend sod for about a year and a half now. It is thriving in full sun and shaded areas due to trees and tall buildings around my house. I am very happy with my purchase. My previous sod died in the same area, but I feel like this new sod will outlast my other grass as it has held up very well even with the high heat and drought conditions.

    Jeffrey Johnson on
  • I bought St. Agustine for my front yard shaded by a large tree, and I was skeptical about how well it would grow as we have never had grass in the area. I was pleasantly surprised as we already have green spots showing up in places.

    Kevin Davis on
  • I used a Fescue grass seed on our front lawn, shaded by large trees. Unfortunately, the grass did not take well to the shade. I was planning to change my lawn this month using Shade Blend.

    Frank Rock on
  • Thank you Roth we try to give great advice that is helpful and practical to new home owners and gardeners that may not have experience with sod or grass seed or lawns. Sod and Seed farming is our passion and its a great feeling to hear positive feedback.

    George Bravos on

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