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.
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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