Many mature oak trees can be found in Baton Rouge neighborhoods. The beautiful live oak tree canopy is an iconic feature of southern Louisiana. Established oaks give our southern countryside a regal air. Live oak trees are widely sought for their beauty, strength, and durability. However, keeping the grass growing beneath many different types of mature oak trees can be difficult, and many homeowners need help. However, there are approaches to this problem that preserve the function of both the oak and the lawn.
A Common Problem
Mature oaks provide shade and have a deep root system that enables them to compete with grasses for water and nutrients. Large, woody roots are often seen straight on the soil surface under oak trees. Most lawn grasses demand whole light and have high water and fertilizer needs. Therefore, they are essentially opposed in most aspects.
By judiciously cutting trees, you may increase the sunshine that reaches the lawn. Lower tree branches and interior branches may be trimmed and removed to enable more light to get to the grass. This may work for certain oak trees but not for giant live oaks with low, spreading branches. Be careful that elevating and thinning the canopy of giant trees is best done by a trained arborist who can identify which components should be removed without compromising the tree’s health. Shade may become an issue again as the tree grows in size over time.
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If your old turf is dying, one alternative is to replace it with a shade-tolerant species. The grass that tolerates shade the best is St. Augustine grass. Grasses are used in lawns in the Baton Rouge region. On the other hand, St. Augustine demands some sunshine and will not thrive in harsh shadows. Remove old grass and add 2 to 4 inches of topsoil to plant fresh grass and boost growth. Avoid piling up many inches of the earth at the tree trunk’s base or
on exposed roots, as this might promote rot. Tilling the soil is not an option due to the risk of damaging the oak’s roots.
If your oak tree screens off too much sunlight, preventing St. Augustine grass from growing, one remedy is to cover the area with mulch. A mulch of various types may be put 4 to 6 inches deep over the spaces beneath trees. The simplest and least expensive option is, without a doubt, this one.
Choose a mulch that complements your current landscaping.
• Pine Straw
• Shredded Hardwood-many different varieties of wood and coloring
• Natural Leaves and lawn compost
Plant a low-growing, shade-loving ground cover in the area. Many shade-tolerant ground cover plants thrive in Baton Rouge’s humid climate and require little to no maintenance. Ground coverings, like grass, may be planted in large, open areas. Shade-loving ground covers often used include:
• Monkey grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)
• Creeping lily turf (Liriope spicata)
• Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum).
• Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
• Leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis)
• Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora
• Sword fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia)
• English ivy (Hedera helix)
Consider planting shrubs, annuals, and perennials that thrive in the shadow for a more complicated approach. Incorporating mature oaks into existing landscaping beds can improve the appearance of your yard.
Shrubs that thrive in the shade include hollies, azaleas, nandinas, clever, ligustrum, aucuba, fatsia, mahonia, pittosporum, hydrangea, red buckeye, sasanqua, camellia, many more.
Try impatiens, coleus, wax begonia, browallia, pentas, salvias, caladium, or torenia for other colorful bedding plants.
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