Growing Grass Under Pine Trees: Is It Possible?

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated May 20, 2022
A woman resting on a terrace of a contemporary house next to pine trees
Photo: rh2010 / Adobe Stock


  • You may find it difficult to grow grass underneath pine trees.

  • Acidic soil, less sun exposure, and falling pine needles make grass hard to grow.

  • Certain shady plants and flowers may be better alternatives for sustainable growth.

  • Landscaping options like adding rocks, gravel, or mulch can also be effective.

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Pine trees offer year-round beauty for homeowners, with their unique look, and shelter for wildlife. Even though pine trees are some of the most common trees on the East Coast, Rocky Mountains, southwestern mountain ranges, and Great Lakes regions—you may be frustrated if you’ve been trying to grow grass underneath a pine tree. Learn why it’s so tricky to grow grass and pine trees together and some alternative ideas to try. 

Can Grass Grow Under Pine Trees?

The short answer is that while you should never say never, growing grass underneath pine is difficult. 

Many homeowners find it very difficult to grow grass seed underneath coniferous resinous trees (a fun way of saying pine). Those who achieve their goal may find it grows patchy, slowly, or dies at the end of the warm season.

You may be more successful with certain types of grass, like Ryegrass, that can still thrive in the shade. But you may struggle no matter which type of grass seed you use.

Why Grass Under Pine Trees Is Tough to Grow

There are three reasons why growing grass under pine trees is tough.

First, the soil underneath pine trees is more acidic. Most lawns require a pH between 6.5 and 7 (neutral, skewing towards slightly acidic) for sustainable growth. Pine tree soil can be as low as 3 on the pH scale.

Second, sunlight—which new grass needs to grow—is also much harder to come by when tall pine trees overlook the area you're trying to seed.

Lastly, pine needles that fall from trees can act like a blanket on the ground that smothers grass seed. All of these factors make it very challenging to grow grass underneath pine trees.

Can You Grow Plants Under Pine Trees?

A villa with expansive grounds and pine trees
Photo: TimAbramowitz / E+ / Getty Images

Like most types of grass, certain plants may struggle to grow underneath lots of pine trees. However, growing some plants and flowers that don’t mind growing in acidic soil and shady conditions could be good alternatives to grass. 

Best Plants to Grow Underneath Pine Trees

  • Lungwort

  • Digitalis (known as foxgloves)

  • Primrose

  • Spotted deadnettle

  • Ferns

  • Wild ginger

Like columbines and Jacob's ladder, certain perennial flowers can also thrive in acidic soil. Consider flowers and plants that grow in mountainous regions, such as the Rockies, where pine trees and other plants are abundant. You might find unique flowers or plants to add to your home.

Other Landscaping Options 

Another option is to add landscaping ground cover like mulch or rocks underneath your pine trees. This option is far less maintenance than trying to grow any type of plant and still gives your yard a nice upgrade in terms of looks.

Mulch is an excellent landscaping option for weedy growth areas underneath pine trees because pine needles mulch themselves as they fall, so they’ll regularly replenish the soil underneath your trees.

If you're thinking about changing up your backyard landscape, installing a pavers walkway through your pine could be a unique way to show off the natural beauty in your yard.

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