Lawns and trees have been slugging it out for dominance for years, with property owners picking their favorite contender and often swapping allegiance mid-fight. People want both a prize lawn and champion trees.
So, what’s the problem? This isn’t a truce that is easy to negotiate in most arenas. Next time you go for a walk in the woods, notice that there is not much grass. The trees and fallen leaves prevent grass from growing so the trees do not have competition from the grass for water and nutrients.
The plain and simple truth is the fight between the lawn and trees can be easy to call in a lot of situations, even in the early rounds. It is possible to have beautiful trees and lawns co-exist.
You may love that a bounty of shade keeps you cool on summer afternoons, but your lawn will fade fast. Most turfgrasses prefer at least five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any trees, but if you plant them too close to other trees or structures, the areas underneath them will be hard-pressed to get even a few hours of sunlight. The bigger the trees get, the less sunlight your grass will be getting which means thinner and thinner turf as the years go on. You can try to seed these areas, but even shade grass varieties can’t grow with less than four hours of light each day. You can also prune your trees to thin them out for filtered light underneath. This may help your lawn and help improve the health of your tree.
While there’s no shame in controlling weeds in your lawn and keeping your turf pristinely mowed, over-application or over-spray of herbicides can be quite the sucker punch to your trees. When possible, expand your mulch beds to give a buffer that mimics a wooded environment. That way, trees and lawns share less surface areas. This will help reduce herbicide damage to lower tree foliage and roots close to the surface.
Shaded and sunny areas of lawns need different lawn care strategies. Lightly fertilize shaded lawn areas to prevent them from thinning out. If you need to control broadleaf weeds, try your best to only spot-treat those that grow under trees and don’t apply herbicide to surface roots. Root systems should be preserved. Mow at a higher cut to limit the amount of damage your mower causes. Also avoid hitting tree trunks with mowers or weed whips as this will wound the trunk. Longer grass will help keep the weeds out of your lawn.
If you have a ringside seat to this lawn and tree sparring, you may be tempted to throw in the towel for whichever side you are cheering on. However, it’s important to remember that you can have a responsible, trained coach in your corner from Ostvig Tree Care.