Not only do pine trees create shade, which can prevent some types of grass from growing beneath them, but pine trees come with their own specific set of issues. Since branches and foliage on pine trees are denser than many other types of trees, preventing light from filtering through, grasses that need sunlight typically won't grow beneath pines. The main issue with growing grass beneath pine trees are the trees' needles, which create acidic conditions in the soil and smother newly planted grasses.
Things You'll Need
- Grass seed
- Garden hose
Use a variety of grass that can withstand the shade the pine tree creates. If the crown of the pine sits high off the ground, allowing some sunlight to reach the grass surrounding the tree throughout the day, Georgia gardener Walter Reeves recommends bermuda grass or zoysia grass, which can both survive some daytime shading, or fescue grass seed. A seed mix of many different grasses created specifically in your region of the country, however, is generally the best option, because these mixes adapt to the climate in which they have been planted and can endure the shade and acid better than single-seed grasses.
Remove all pine needles from the area beneath the pine tree before planting grass seed with a rake, picking small pieces up by hand and dispose of them in the trash or use them as mulch around plants that like acid soil. Some plants that like acid soil include azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and wild strawberries.
Prepare the ground where the pine needles fall for the grass seed by tilling the topsoil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Mix a complete nitrogen fertilizer into the soil at about 1 lb. of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
Spread grass seed at a rate of 2 to 10 lbs. for every 1,000 square feet of land. To get a closer estimation, consult the packaging of the grass seed that you selected to get the best results. If you want perfectly even distribution, use a seed spreader, but you can generally get a similar result by spreading seed as evenly as possible by hand.
Water the seeded area beneath the pine tree every day for at least 30 minutes until green appears above the ground, and cut back to every other day once sprouts appear. Before watering, walk around the seeded area and look for pine needles that have fallen. Rake up or pick up any pine needles before each watering to keep the area clear of pine debris.
Remove pine needles as they fall from the pine tree to keep the grass healthy. Once grass is established, keep the grass clear of pine needles by raking the grass every three to four days. Remove all pine needles from the area to prevent them from smothering the grass and making the soil too acidic.
Tips & Warnings
- Grass should be sown when all frosts have passed and the temperatures are steady around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.