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mngrassguy
10-15-2008, 01:50 AM
Anybody have any ideas how I can get grass to grow under my 2.5 acres of maples? I've trimmed them up as far as I can reach with a pole pruner and a ladder. Moss does real well there unlike the Lesco Deep Shade Grass seed I put down every year for the last 5.

gene gls
10-15-2008, 09:14 PM
Grass needs about 5 hours of sun light most every day along with a good air flow. You are wasting your time trying to grow grass under trees. As the trees get bigger, the roots will come to the top of the ground and it will be too rough to run a mower over the areas anyway.

Swampy
10-15-2008, 10:32 PM
Mulch under the trees, eliminates mowing and string trimming, plus helps the trees.

JB1
10-15-2008, 10:49 PM
cut the trees down.

Whitey4
10-15-2008, 10:57 PM
It's more than just sunlight. Maples are PIGS at the table. Very shallow roots, especially the hairlike feeder roots. Right at the top of the soil, and they suck up any nutrients that might be found there. Outcompeting just about everything but annoying weeds like plantains.

Grass wil likely never grow well under the drip line of any maple. If a tree can be a weed... it's the maple, especially the Norway Maple.

However.... if you are tired of loking at dirt... you might try what I did for a customer this spring.

I found spots where there were no thick support roots in the soil. I dug out the feeder roots of the maple and used plasctic garden border strips (8" if you can find them)

I placed the garden border stips buried to the very top in 3 and 4 foot circles. I then planted an assortment of ferns, (Japanese painted, cinnamon and another... I forget.. maybe Christmas) and some astilbe along with sweet woodruff as a ground cover. I made sure to add these borders at the lines of the lawn, as sweet woodruff can be invasive, but it doesnt like full sun either.... so it tends to fill in where the shade line is. Still.... you don't want this stuff invading your turf.

The idea is with the shallow root system of the maple, the 8" border "should" keep the feeder roots out of the jury rigged "containers" I made. Still, regular fertilization is needed. Maples have a way of killing nearby plants... I've seen them kill azealeas from 40 feet away from the trunk and 5 feet beyond the drip line.

This spring installation went well for the most part... but ferns are tempremental until established. I'll have to replace a couple next spring.

So, it can be done... it's not easy, and requires perennial care. Grass? I think you already know it won't work there, even with sunlight.

PS: I used some hostas too...

mngrassguy
10-17-2008, 09:30 AM
Thanks Whitey4, some great ideas. Most of which I've already tried. I let 1/2go back to nature, planted many hostas, ferns and lots of mulch. I"ve cut down many trees, like 17 last year, 10 so far this year. I just wish I could get some grass to grow between my house and the road.

Leaves are a MAJOR headach, even for a lawnguy. I spend over 40 hours both spring and fall cleaning up my own yard. I can't afford myself.

People call me the Grassguy but I don't have a lawn!!!:cry:

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 08:15 PM
Thanks Whitey4, some great ideas. Most of which I've already tried. I let 1/2go back to nature, planted many hostas, ferns and lots of mulch. I"ve cut down many trees, like 17 last year, 10 so far this year. I just wish I could get some grass to grow between my house and the road.

Leaves are a MAJOR headach, even for a lawnguy. I spend over 40 hours both spring and fall cleaning up my own yard. I can't afford myself.

People call me the Grassguy but I don't have a lawn!!!:cry:

I hear ya, bro. What's worse is that even after you remove a maple, unless you stump grind it WAY down, like a foot below the level of soil, and fill with top soil, it's still hard to establish turf in those areas.

I don't "hate" Maples... one in the back forty is fine, but other than that.... I prefer trees that provide less dense shade and don't drain the soil of every freakin available nutrient. Trees that allow dappled sunlight through the canopy can really help avoid summer stress on cool season grasses.

Dawgoods, Japanese Maples, birches (although the later is very prone to leaf miners and Bronze Birch borers) are nice choices for a front lawn. I find some maples to be majestic and interesting.... but the placement is all too often wrong. Too close to structures, like driveways and sidewalks, in a front yard... bad spots.

Good luck with the long term project, because it sounds like it is... a looong term project!

Smallaxe
10-18-2008, 07:59 AM
Maple leaves, are what I pile in the front yard every fall and till into the ground the following year. What do you do with yours?

Either till your planting zone and/or add several inches of topsoil. Either way you are avoiding the surface roots of the maple that kill your grass.
Once done, your grass has a chance to establish.

How long b4 the tree comes back to kill your grass?
Who knows. It will take monitoring to see.

If you have only dense shade - you need to go into the local forests and get one of the natural grasses and propagate that. nothing in the store will work.
Also could replant annual rye every spring.

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 07:28 PM
Maple leaves, are what I pile in the front yard every fall and till into the ground the following year. What do you do with yours?

Either till your planting zone and/or add several inches of topsoil. Either way you are avoiding the surface roots of the maple that kill your grass.
Once done, your grass has a chance to establish.

How long b4 the tree comes back to kill your grass?
Who knows. It will take monitoring to see.

If you have only dense shade - you need to go into the local forests and get one of the natural grasses and propagate that. nothing in the store will work.
Also could replant annual rye every spring.

I've been told (so it's hearsay) that tilling the feeder roots on a maple, or adding top soil (too much) can kill the tree. The idea there is that you are starving the tree. Take away or starve it's feeder roots will also starve the tree. Maples get thier N from there own leaves, and get micros from rain water as I understand it.

I'm no arborist... just posting what I have heard from some others.

mngrassguy
10-18-2008, 10:33 PM
I've been told (so it's hearsay) that tilling the feeder roots on a maple, or adding top soil (too much) can kill the tree. The idea there is that you are starving the tree. Take away or starve it's feeder roots will also starve the tree. Maples get thier N from there own leaves, and get micros from rain water as I understand it.

I'm no arborist... just posting what I have heard from some others.

I've heard the same thing. I remove the leaves as quickly as possible to a compost pile so as not to smother any grass that is trying to survive.

Smallaxe

You till your front yard every spring? Sounds like a lot of work. I use my compost to fill in dead spots where I left piles of leaves all winter.

Smallaxe
10-19-2008, 11:06 AM
I don't have lawn so much as I have garden. The leaves are compostted, at least partially, and tilled into the soil to finish the job. The resultant mixture is high organic clay loam similar to 'forest floor'.

The idea of killing a maple tree with a tilling is common and may possibly happen with some tree specie, in some environments. Maple is of the genus: acer. Box Elder is the official 'weed tree' in our neck of the woods, also of the 'acer' genus. People used to tap for syrup from those things and add it to the maple syrup just to increase their volume.

Established maples that are killing things in their root zone are not delicate creatures. IMO. I have put in gardens next to many trees over the years and have never killed one. One of my clients wanted to cleanup certain areas in his forest and decided to till large blocks of the forest floor, level and rake out, add topsoil and either garden or grass the area. No detriment to pine, maple, oak and cherry trees in that forest.

Just don't bury the actual trunk of the tree too deeply. I have found detriment to certain trees with that over the years. It is interestting with cedars though that a pile of limestone with fines was dumped next to a cedar tree and buried the trunk about 18" deep about four years ago. Finally a decision was made to spread the unused portion around right where it sat. As I did that, I see the tree sprouted roots out the side of the trunk and was growing into the pile.

Personally I would much rather have maple grove with a good fresh leaf covering every fall rather than another stinking mowing job for my front yard, but to each his own :)

treegal1
10-21-2008, 11:06 PM
smothering the trunk is no good, but adding compost or mulch to the root zone is what trees do they are cannibals, the eat dead trees. tilling the root zone, eh if you don't beat up the root system to bad it may be helpful stress to the tree???? work out or bullet to the head???? how much tilling??? a year of moles or a 500 lbs bomb???

if the moss wants to grow there why not hit it with some butter milk and help it grow???? no mowing green and is like walking on cake?????whats not to love????

also look on you tube about the ladder and power pruner, every one get hurt its so funny.........

DUSTYCEDAR
10-21-2008, 11:26 PM
every one get hurt its so funny
your worse than i am

Smallaxe
10-24-2008, 08:09 AM
I just saw the tail end of the 'Tree Cop' documentary about Milwaukee. His job was to save the trees that road expansion was going to kill.

The result was cutting a foot to 16" down along side the tree. Exposing the living stump cross section within inches of the center, on a 12" dia. tree. Backfilling with road gravel, covering with asphalt and edging with a concrete curve. Sidewalk on the otherside.

Looked like a 32" to 42" median with 30' trees running down it. None of the visible roots above ground would have been attached to anything going under the roadway. Milwaukee claims the average , longest lived trees in the nation, @ 62 years old.

Can trees handle adversity or not?