I have a part of my yard where there is a big maple tree that provides shade over a line of shrubs and a patch of grass. My property is also along a moderately busy road where a lot of cars do pass by.

My grass has issues growing in this shade and soil and moss are now overtaking the shaded area. My line of shrubs is also not doing well and they might be on their last legs.

My experience with lawncare includes:

  • remove thatch by using a rake
  • in the spring, add top soil and grass seeds on top of lawn. I used shaded grass seeds last year
  • water in the early morning and once at dusk

I'm not seeing the results I want. Are there any steps I'm missing in my lawn care process? Is the lack of sunlight or the exhaust from the cars affecting my lawn and shrubs growth?

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  • 1
    I agree with Ecnerwal that light is your main issue, but I wanted to say watering it twice a day is quite a bit. That may be encouraging the moss over the grass.
    – MackM
    Apr 17 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


Choose whether you want the tree or the grass & shrubs more. Remove the one that loses.

I want it all seems to be the default position, and that's not going to work without a few more suns than we have near this planet.

You could try pruning off lower limbs, but the tree looks to have gone a bit far down the road of being a multi-trunk pasture/lawn tree (not struggling for light in a forest and growing tall) for that to look good if done now, as the lower major branches are a bit too major, similar to the upper trunk. There's also a distinct possibility of killing the tree due to that being too much at once, though that part could be dealt with by spreading the cutting over 3-5 years.

You can have tree and artificial grass. Still might need to kill moss on that, given the shade. Or you can encourage moss as a short green material that's nice to walk barefoot on that tolerates shade well (though not a great deal of foot or wheeled traffic.) You don't have to mow either of those.

Based on observations of the vegetation alongside even extremely heavily traveled expressways, I doubt "the exhaust from the cars" has much to do with the problem. Observationally right here, the grass looks better on what I assume is the road side of the hedge (away from the house) probably because it's getting a little more light over there.

  • The nice grass on the other side of the shrubs make me think 'tree & grass, no shrub' could also work.
    – MackM
    Apr 17 at 15:59
  • It might, but under mature trees is typically not a place that grasses do well. You also shouldn't have grass right up to the tree trunk even where it will grow, as mower/trimmer damage to the tree results.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 17 at 16:05
  • Thank you for the commentary about the lack of sun which is causing everything to not grow. I'm going to try one last time to see if i can regrow some grass around that area by reseeding / top soil. I'll keep in mind that it may be a loss cause though. I dont think i will be cutting down the tree as that will incur some expense.
    – Charles
    Apr 17 at 23:01
  • in regards to the hedges, the line of shrubs continues further down where there is no tree coverage and those are green and growing very healthy. I didn't water any of the shrubs too.
    – Charles
    Apr 17 at 23:03

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