Trees and grass – are they a match?

Tue. Apr. 24, 2018

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Trees and grass – are they a match?

I learned something the other day and wanted to share.  My friend, Faith Appelquist, is an arborist with her own company Treequality.  She put out a newsletter discussing grass and trees.  She says,   trees and turf grass were never meant to live together…. WHAT???

Trees evolved in the forest with twigs and leaves as a ground cover.

Grass evolved in the prairie with full sun all around.

Prairie…. notice the separation?

So what happens when we put these two plants together? Nobody’s happy.

Grass and trees will fight for the same resources: sunlight, water and nutrients.  This LINK will take you directly to Faith’s newsletter on the subject where she goes into further detail on the scientific reasons that trees and traditional grass lawns really don’t mix that well. Think photosynthesis…

So exactly what did I learn?  It has to do with “shade tolerant” grass mixes.  Faith says, and I quote, “there is no criteria for what is called “Shade Grass Mixture”. You can go to your big box stores, and even though it’s titled Shade Grass, that doesn’t mean anything”.  She tells it like it is.  Honestly, I’d never hear that.

low mow grass from Treequality

So what can you do?  Does that mean no more grass or no more trees?  No, but, should you choose to, consider planting low-grow or No-mow fine fescue grass under your trees.  Here’s Faith’s advice:  not saying it’s super easy…

Find 90-100% fine fescue blends or buy individual species and mix them together: they are hard chewing fescue, sheep fescue and creeping red fescue.  It’s important not to have just one kind of fine fescue!  Just like trees and, frankly, any other plants or humans… diversity is a good thing because we’ve seen what happens when you just plants Elms, or just plant Ash or just plant any one thing….  if one gets a disease, they all do.

creeping red fescue