Incredible Tips on How to Grow Grass Over Tree Roots

Exposed tree roots can be quite annoying for homeowners. And knowing how to deal with it can be challenging. However, the surface roots are common but should not be a major alarm.

The best option is always planting grass to cover the tree roots. If you don’t know how to grow grass over tree roots, this article will be your guide.

Why Tree Roots Expose?

Tree roots can surface on the ground due to various reasons. Some tree species are more prone to surface on the ground than others. It is also common for older trees to show roots on the surface.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Tree species

Some tree species have to grow exposing their roots. The tree species include willows, poplars, and maples that grow with roots exposed.

Natural growth

Like the tree limbs and trunks, roots increase in size as they grow older. Hence, the thicker they grow, the higher the chances of the roots breaking the surface.

Poor soil quality

You can get to the roots of most trees after digging twelve inches. Myths have it that sandy or loose soil cannot contain deep tree roots. You can find surface rooting in the urban areas where the soil is compacted or based on clay.

Compacted soil turns the root upward or downward. That means it grows just below the level of the ground. When they grow larger, they break the ground surface. Wind and rain erode the soil regularly leading to further exposure.

Lack of oxygen

Oxygen is a mandatory requirement for roots. Therefore, if soil is compacted, they have to break the ground surface in search of oxygen. Most root exposure occurs due to lack of oxygen. Surfacing is struggling to adapt to the harsh environment.

Lack of space

If there is not enough space for the roots, they will surface out. This applies to trees grown in buildings, streets, and sidewalks. Any obstacle that hinders the growth of the root, like cubs or foundations, will lead to root exposure.

People trampling around the area of the tree root

Too much trampling wears away or packs down the soil hence exposing the roots.

Surfaced roots can be easily damaged. String trimmers and lawnmowers can slice them. Or foot traffic tearing and wearing them off. 

When the roots get damaged, they are unable to collect nutrients and water to keep the tree alive.

One of the best ways of covering exposed tree roots is by planting grass. Some may put topsoil over the surface roots.

Others may prefer putting concrete, gravel, or mulch cover. Since planting grass is the best and most beautiful cover, how do you go about it?

How to Grow Grass over Tree Roots

Growing grass over the roots can be tricky; you don’t want to damage the roots and at the same time you want a good depth for the grass seeds. Furthermore, the grass and the tree will have to compete for nutrients and water.

Some grass species do not do well under the tree shades. Also, some tree species like pine don’t create a favorable environment for grass growth.

Your preferred grass can be unsuitable to grow over tree roots. You can do some research to find the best grass species to cover the bare spaces. 

Select the appropriate type and learn how to plant it over the tree roots.

1. Choose the best grass specie

Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Turf Grass Seed

Fine fescue is the best grass species that can grow under tree shade and around the roots. Unlike other species, it doesn’t consume too much nutrients and water. It also tolerates tree shade.

Therefore, fine fescue can be planted on any tree regardless of its rate of nutrients and water absorption from the soil. Fine fescue has high tolerance in acidic soils. Hence, they can grow with the pine trees.

Though fine fescue requires low maintenance, learn how to fertilize. Water them especially during the dry seasons. However, the tree will still consume most of the fertilizer and water. But ensure the grass gets these requirements to match your lawn.

During the fall and spring, try out NPK fertilizer, so that you can test the lacking nutrients.

Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK

You will notice the fine fescue species experiencing heat stress if it gets inadequate shade. Additionally, it lacks tolerance of foot traffic. If it has to be planted in an area with high traffic, add some stepping stones. This will protect the cover from foot tampering.

2. Prepare the Soil

Compacted soil is not a good environment for grass seed growth. You need to till or aerate the ground before scattering the grass seeds.

However, doing that in an area with surface roots can lead to damages. Serious injuries will eventually kill the tree.

You can scuff up the top soil using a garden hoe to loosen the soil. This will allow grass germination. But for the grass to grow well and with a healthy root, it needs rich dirt and more loose inches.

Effects of Surface Roots

Exposed roots may cause potential problems. They include:

1. Unusual Growth

Any plant or grass around the surface roots may die.

2. Rot, Infestation, and Diseases

Surface roots get easily damaged by wildlife, foot traffic, or landscaping machines. The damaged roots can easily get disease infections, insect infestation.

Sometimes they may carry dangerous viruses to the tree branches and the trunks.

3. Trip Hazard

The surface roots may trip you or anyone adventuring your landscape.

4. Damage Landscape Machines

The surface roots may harm lawnmowers when they make contact.

How to grow grass under maple trees

How to Prevent Surface Root

Prevent the surface roots by taking the following actions:

1. Species

We have seen that some species grow with the roots exposed. If you want to plant trees in your yard, ensure you understand the growth pattern of your selected species.

Stop tree and acorn sprouts growing in yard

2. Soil

Soil pH level, nutrient content, moisture level, and type of soil determines the growth of the tree roots.

To prevent surface roots, ensure you deep water, seasonally fertilize and adjust pH level annually.

3. Planting Location

The healthy growth of a plant depends on nutrients, light, and soil. Planting tree species in the preferred condition will minimize the tree roots from exposure.

You have learned how to grow grass over tree roots, problems caused, and how to prevent them. Injuring the surface roots to the tree’s death or health decline. Before mishandling the roots, you may need a professional to help you save your tree and yard.

1. How to grow grass under maple trees

Choose grass seeds that tolerate tree shade, till the soil surface before planting and scatter the seed lightly.

2. Is it possible to grow grass under a pine tree?

Yes, it is possible to grow grass under a pine tree. All that is needed is ground preparation and suitable grass species for the climate.

3. Why does nothing grow under pine trees?

Pine trees cause dryness and dense shade, which is not suitable for the growth of most plants. They strongly compete for nutrients and water.

4. How to stop tree roots from killing grass

You can prevent the tree roots from killing the grass without killing the tree itself. Surround the tree with a landscape bed to prevent the surface roots.

5. How to grow grass under oak trees

Select a grass species that is shade tolerant, prune the tree branches to six feet high, apply the fertilizer sparingly, adequately water the grass, and rake the dirt every fall.

You have learned how to grow grass over tree roots, problems caused, and how to prevent them.

Injuring the surface roots leads to the tree’s death or health decline.

Before mishandling the roots, you may need a professional to help you save your tree and yard.


  • Ricky

    Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care. K Beatrice

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