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Shade Trees are Tough on Lawns

We spend a lot of time here at Soils Alive working to give our customers the happiest and healthiest lawns in town. There are any number of environmental conditions, such as soil compaction, fungal diseases and insects that can damage our lawns. But one of the biggest challenges is actually shade trees. 

It's hot here in DFW and so it only makes sense that we plant a lot of large shade trees to help keep our homes cool during the summer months. However, these shade trees simply don't go hand in hand with a happy lawn. Turf grasses are by nature full sun plants. They don't like shade and will decline once they are shaded too much. St. Augustine grass is often called a shade grass, but this is not accurate. While St. Augustine will certainly tolerate more shade than grasses like Bermuda, it still needs a good four hours of direct sunlight in order to be vigorous and healthy. 

Also, all shade is not the same. Depending on the type of tree, number of trees, height and width of the canopies as well as the height of the lowest limbs all change the type and amount of direct sunlight available to your lawn and landscape. Your next door neighbor with a large red oak might have healthy St. Augustine growing in their front yard, but most likely the positioning and height of the canopy allows in either several hours of morning or afternoon sun. However, your cluster of two or three live oaks, positioned such that sun may be blocked much of the day, makes it almost impossible to grow healthy turf grass. 

We look at lawns all day, every day, and have come up with our top three toughest trees to grow grass under:

  1. Ornamental pear
  2. Live oak
  3. Magnolia

Chances are, you have one or more of these trees in your landscape. Here is a cluster of Bradford Pear. You can see how sunlight being blocked for most of the day has caused a large section of lawn to die off. 

While it appears that the dead area of lawn is getting direct sun at the time of the photo, realize that it is only for a very short period of time, then all sunlight is blocked by the Bradford Pears for the rest of the day. 

This is why homeowners often feel as if their lawn is getting enough sun; but if they were to track the direct sunlight throughout the day, they'd find out there is much less than they originally thought. 

If you have shade trees and are struggling with your lawn, give us a call for an on-site consultation. We can help you assess whether or not you receive enough sunlight for healthy turf, or if there are other issues impacting the growth of your lawn. 972-272-9211 or contact us online.

lawn, turf grass, shade, shade trees, Soils Alive, Dallas, Texas



Soils Alive is an active member of the Agronomy Society of America (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA).

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We earned the 2014 Super Service Award from Angie's List. The award reflects consistent high levels of customer service. Check our reviews atAngie's List. We won the 2013 Super Service Award as well.

1821 Wall Street
Garland, TX 75041
Ph: 972.272.9211

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