Turf Grass vs oak trees

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Ben I, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Ben I

    Ben I LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    I am meeting with a customer tommorow to discuss what to do about his front yard which is full of oak trees. I know he wants to know how he can get a good looking turf under these oaks. What are the options other than trimming to let more light in?
  2. integrityman

    integrityman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,713

    Start with a soil test and apply fert accordingly.

    Consider overseeding with a really top notch dense shade seed mixture.
  3. Ben I

    Ben I LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    soil test, adjust PH, aerate and maybe some creeping red? I know its going to be an on going struggle to get anything to grow but if thats what the customer wants I'll try to figure out what's best to get a close to that as I can. What do you guys think?
  4. JB1

    JB1 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,904

    i had some customers like that once, would not listen to my suggestions and spent a lot of money on seed, one day they decided to cut most of the trees out, they now have a very beautiful lawn with just a few trees.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The biggest mistake people make when they get grass to grow in the woods, is to dump a whole bunch of fertilizer on it... Shade is a very low maintenaince area...

    Bring in good topsoil, if needed, otherwise roughing up the surface and covering your seed with compost may be just fine... Use only shady mix seed or perhaps annual rye if necessary... if you actually have enough light to germinate the seed and it is growing, only mulch mow High and topdress with compost rather than fertilizer, at least for the first year... winterizer may be OK if you have a lot of perennial grasses that survive...
  6. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    I have the exact same problem with my OWN lawn up here. Ben, you second post is exactly what I would do. I'm cutting a couple down this spring and hopefully that will help some too. We have real acidic soil up here in Maine so I have to keep an eye on the PH.
  7. Ben I

    Ben I LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    thanks guys, I never understood whys someone would want a forest in their front yard anyways. . . I'd rather have a good looking turf but hey! takes all kinds to me the world go round right?:laugh:
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    That's right... different strokes for different folks... I personally like a private forest as opposed to a field of houses and cars...

    What's important is: Whether you can give the client what he wants, or not... :)
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,665

    Forgetaboutit! Grass needs sun--if there were enough sun to grow grass--there would be grass. 6 hours of direct sun per day is about the minimum necessary. Shade grass mixture needs about 5 and a half. If they do not want to remove any trees, your best bet is to plant a Tennesee-suitable ground cover. Like: myrtle, pachysandra, ivy, ajuga, or lamium. When the soil temp gets high and the days get shorter in August--the roots get short and the grass fades out.
  10. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    Turf Grass vs oak trees --->

    In the end, the turf grass loses. Right plant in the right place. Even with trimming the trees, you may have just enough direct sunlight in the summer but when the season changes you lose that and the turfgrass just slowly declines over time.

    Now of course, all this really site specific. How bad is the root competition in the first 4-6" of soil? Is the pH suitable for your turfgrass types? Do the weeds actively grow under these oak trees? If the weeds aren't thriving, grass won't either.

    Now you can try to test, amend, fill and supplement etc but your still dealing with challenging conditions without enough direct sunlight.

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