So you're able to see a surface root problem, but you're not able to see grass
growing under a maple. Amazing.
You wrote, I quote: "One solution is to get rid of the tree."
I guess technically it's true that you didn't suggest removing the tree to
find out if that's the problem -- you just *assumed* that the tree is the
Of course, anyone who bothers to actually *look* at real trees in the real
world can see that grass grows readily under maple trees.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
There are a few factors that have to be brought together to not allow
grass to grow, the main thing a lawn needs is a certain minimum amount
of sun per day. In areas I have poor sun the maples finish the lawn, in
areas I have sun the maples severly restrict the lawn from growing much,
but it is green. A real shade gardener will rate trees and always put
Maples on the bottom as a whole and Oaks as a non issue as to allowing a
plant to reach its full potential. Doug your lawn under the maple may be
green and look fine, but it is restricted, it has enough sun to keep it
alive. The OP probably has to little sun from other buildings and nearby
trees that just don`t allow him the minimum to keep things alive, and
the maple roots insure its final. He may also have poor dirt, but his
tree is thiving. If you don`t believe Maples are an issue contact your
nursery shade pro, its common knowledge to get a shade plants full
potential you don`t plant under certain Maple species root zone. I buy
hostas from a local award winning breeder www.thehostalady.com who
refered me to the Copper Sulfate impregnated plastic mesh bags, that
some gardeners have to go to the extent of to get a plant to grow to its
potential, Maples to me are a pain the the A to grow plants around, but
in lawn areas I have some that help by reducing my mowing, and ive had a
Silver that killed my lawn as the tree grew, till I removed the tree.
Incompatible tree roots are all to often overlooked.
Me too. No particular problem growing grass under my maples. Although I threw
down a little lime every other year to keep the grass growing under a crabapple
tree. However, having some bushes ade trees to the south of it removed some
years ago to replace a storm drain has made even that unecessary. It was the
light conditions as well as the pH that was keeping it a little bare before
Another option is to spread some topsoil and re-seed. I'm doing that because
clearly the fill that was spread around after a foundation repair wasn't
supporting anything living.
Finally, grass sometimes just plain takes some persistance. I'd overseeded
under the crabapple tree even before the light-blocking vegetation was removed,
breaking up the soil a bit with an up-and-down motion of a straight rake, with
some success. I fully expect to overseed this fall, what I've spread and seeded
in the past week or so by the foundation repair.
Banty (for once happy to see a long stretch of rainy days in the forecast...)
Certain common Maple species such as Silver maple dont allow anything to
grow underneath the root zone. For gardeners intent on planting plants
and keeping bad trees a company makes a Copper Sulfate impregnated mesh
bad you bury first and plant into. Where I have Maples my hostas are 6"
where I have no Maples the same plant type is 3-4ft. So forget the
grass, make a rock-moss garden or cut the tree down. Maples literaly
suck everything first.
Soil chemistry -- availability of nutrients,
-- amount of organic matter (compost)
-- acidity etc.
Soil texture (compaction prevents water reaching roots)
Seed varieties (grass or rye, clover, fescue etc.);
also intrusive weeds
Watering: lawns grow best with an inch of rain every week
(in summer: but beware moss and mildew.)
Temperature governs for how many months of the year
your grass plants can grow.
wok advice so far - I have seen issues when there is bedrock just below
the surface causing this too although not in such a large area. You deep
can you dig in the area?
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Is (or has) this spot subject to foot traffic. The soil may just be too
For a small patch, its hard to determine exactly why but replacing the
topsoil is cheap and usually effective.
Just dig out an inch or so off the top and dump a bag of topsoil and manure
then mix that into some native soil, seed, press down and start over.
We had a place in the back yard, north
side of the house, where the grass just
wouldn't grow. The 1st 9' north of the
house is now brick pavers .... looks
great. The next area, under a maple, is
birmed up about 6" high and planted with
all kinds of things ... flowers, wild
grass clusters and yes, even some weeds look
pretty good. We even had some purple
kale to give some color. BTW, the maple
trunk is about 16' from the house. Add
some low voltage lighting and it makes a
Ignoring the pleas to kill your tree.
That's just over a Yard at 1" deep. For that size I might buy 2-3 yards of
amendment (whatever compost soil mix you find at the materials yard) spread
that over the top and roto till it in then buy sod of an appropriate blend
for your location and sun exposure. Add some Gypsem if you have clay to
help keep it broken up
That's about $130 in materials plus two delivery charges (unless you have a
truck) assuming $0.30/SF for grass and $11 per yard for dirt. You can have
it looking great in a couple of days.
You can seed too of course but that's a lot more waiting, hoping and
watering then the birds will eat half the seed anyway.
Some of the premium [sod] grasses are more disease resistant. Stay away
from grasses like bluegrass that are hard to care for. They are essentially
many individual plants so when bare spots develop they don't fill back in.
Rhyzomatic grasses (zoyosa) which form dense root masses which spread are
better. Consult the sod farm sales person for good local advice.
We had a couple of smaller areas in our yard where everything died too
easilly. When I dug out the roots for a dead hedge plant, I found
almost nothing but rock. The area had once been a parking area, and
just covered over the rock. The other area had a bunch of concrete
pavers buried very shallow. Dug them out, levelled the soil and now the
Most grasses need at least 2 hours of sun a day (not "bright shade"). A
tree can suck water and fertilizer, so that is a consideration. Is the
rest of the lawn healthy and lush, or "so-so"? If ground is absolutely
bare, I would rake it, seed it, water daily until established. If
attempted, don't wait for hot weather. Local conditions vary too much
for anyone to give the precise answer you need. As others have
suggested, local extension service can give good info, as well as soil
testing. I would ask them, also, what ground cover might be more
appropriate for the spot. You've grown grass before, but extra water
and fertilizing at the right time may make a difference, along with
thinning the tree to allow more sun. If there are roots at the surface
that interfere with mowing, ground cover or shrubs is probably a better
Could very well be the soil. Run a comprehensive soil test to find
out. Road salt can make it difficult for most plants to grow and the
only practical way to get rid of the salt to replace the soil, drench
it, or allow it to rain on it a few dozen times. Petroleum or
anti-freeze spills are not good either.
Dig a hole and see what is down underneath. Knew a friend who found out
that his front lawn used to be a gravel parking lot for the development. The
builder just spread soil over it and laid sod. Also heard of concrete slabs
under the soil. Worth checking out.
Sounds like when they built the house the lazy incompetant builder let the
concrete guys just empty their washed out tank into the yard.
Nothing grows there.
If it's the end of the day and the last pour, a lot of times they sneak a
garden hose into the unit and wash it out so the concrete doesn't set at
night and a lot of times there is quite a bit left in there.
All watered down and poured into your yard.
Dig down about 1 foot and take a sample at 6" and 1" and 2" and send them
to your state lab for anylsis.
If it comes back full of alkloids, you'll have to rent a tiny
bulldozer/scooper and scoop off the top layer of soil, then have a dump
truck come and dump some new topsoil down for you.
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