If you have trees on your property, you’re likely to eventually encounter areas where it’s tough to grow grass. Turfgrasses all require a minimum amount of direct sunlight to grow. Even varieties listed as “shade tolerant” will need at least 4 hours of sunlight each day to look full. Combine that with surface roots, wear and tear, and runoff, and there will be some areas of your lawn that will be way too shady and way too difficult to grow a nice lawn.

Grass may not be your best alternative in these areas. Even with tree pruning to thin out trees, seeding, aeration, and topdressing, you may come to the realization that you should explore alternatives to grass on some areas of your property.


Most of these areas occur around the base of trees. Whenever possible, expand these areas with a 2″-3″ mulch layer. Not only is this great for your tree, it will cover those unsightly, thin lawn areas. In some instances where these areas run in between trees, connect landscaping beds together or create walking paths in these areas. Using a combination of mulch and decorative gravel can look great and people may not even realize you did this to hide a lawn problem.

Planting Beds:

There are many plants that love growing in the shade. If you have areas that are too shady for grass, instead of investing in lawn care in those areas, create new planting beds and add shade tolerant shrubs, perennials, and groundcover. Some great plants to use are: Rhododendron, Laurels, Ferns, Hostas, Pachysandra, Coral Bells, and countless others! You could even incorporate a hammock, bench, or bird feeders in these areas. These improvements could make the ugliest spot on your property one of your favorites!


If conditions allow for it, consider installing natural stone patios and walkways. This could create a great shady spot to entertain or relax on your property. Be careful not to disturb tree roots and use the proper fill in these areas so that water can still make its way down to tree roots. A landscape designer who understands these implications to tree health can help you to explore these options.

If you would like to discuss solutions for shady areas on your property where you cannot get grass to grow, please don’t hesitate to contact us.