Key Points:

– Lawns and trees can be a great mix for your yard but they can be problematic together.
– Consider a shade tolerant lawn as your trees grow over time increasing shade.
– If planning a new lawn, a mulched base may be better than turf right up to the trunk.

Sitting in the shade of a tree can be the most relaxing way to spend your weekend, but what if your lawn is suffering because of the trees in or around it?

Here are some common tree problems and how to fix them.


It makes sense that trees and lawns compete with each other. They fight for water, nutrients, and light. It’s common to see thinning grass around the base of a tree.
If you’re deciding on which turf to lay and you need one that will cope well in the shade, opt for a shade tolerant type such as Kings Pride Soft Leaf Buffalo or Shadetuff Zoysia). Both will give you good grass coverage right up to the base of a tree and have the capability of surviving, even in heavy shade.

Shade often increases with new lawn installations with small trees and shrubs often growing quickly and reducing available light. Remember any lawn-type will need at least a few hours of sunshine each day to survive.
Choosing a deciduous tree can help with shade issues during winter, but be aware that you will be raking up fallen leaves throughout Autumn.

Your best option will be to keep your lawn away from the trunk of the tree and be sure to spread plenty of mulch instead. This will help to reduce the competition for light, water and nutrients with the added bonus of avoiding ring barking when using a line trimmer / whipper snipper, or damaging surface roots when mowing. By emphasising the base of the tree, you can get a very desirable effect that is easy to maintain and cost effective in the long run.

Mowing and Line Trimming

When mowing, aim to keep your lawn slightly longer in the shaded areas under trees. Only remove one-third of the green leaf each time.
Line trimming close to tree trunks can easily lead to ring barking (the removal of bark around the base of the trunk). This can cause the tree to die, so ensure you keep away from the base when using a whipper snipper.


Large roots from trees, particularly those near the surface, can cause several problems. These problems can occur regardless of whether they are in the lawn or in a nearby garden bed. Casuarina, Evergreen, Alder, Ficus and Liquidambar are examples of trees that have been known to have extensive roots systems that can damage lawns.


Suckering is the term used when we talk about trees or shrubs that grow new stems from their root systems. If left unchecked, these “suckers” will spread and grow into new plants. They may appear in borders, lawns, between paving stones or through paths.

Mowing, line trimming and digging can actually be the cause of some problems with suckering plants. For example, if a robinia’s roots are damaged or disturbed, it will send up suckers from the root stock and saplings will spread all around it. Roots will also sucker if they hit an obstacle. In an average size garden, it’s best to avoid this type of tree altogether.

New lawns

When installing a new lawn, avoid digging out important tree roots or covering them with soil. Extra soil will upset the delicate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide around the roots. This can be hazardous to the health of your tree and can even cause it to die.

It’s best to seek advice from a specialist if you don’t know what to do to protect the trees in your garden. An arborist will be able to tell you what’s best for the type of tree you have.

Kings Pride Turf Producers have great local knowledge when it comes to what’s best for your own lawn circumstances – contact us today for helpful, no obligation, advice.