It can be difficult to grow lawn and turf under trees, however there are many ways to grow lawn under trees.
It all comes down to soil type, soil moisture and lawn type.
First, take a look at what variety of grass you have. Is it one that can grow under trees? Most Couch varieties will not grow well under trees. Kikuyu will grow in semi-shade or open areas. Kikuyu can still grow in 50% shade. Some of the more recent varieties, such as Sir Walter or Shade Master, will also grow under trees up to 50% shade if you have buffalo.
Next, check the soil around your tree to see if it is dry and draining properly. The soil can be improved by adding organic matter (cow manure or sheep manure), or you could remove the soil to make a better soil mixture. You don’t usually need to remove more than 10 to 15 cm of top soil. The soil can dry out because trees tend to retain moisture near their roots. However, most of the water is deeper within the soil. You can improve the soil’s moisture holding capacity by enhancing the soil’s top 15 cm. The top 15 cm of soil is where most lawns draw moisture. Water well and plant runners.
The next step is to plant a new grass around your tree if your lawn is not growing. Many seed-grown varieties will thrive under trees, where the running varieties won’t. However, they may look different from the lawn you have. This could mean a new leaf or a different colour of grass. Shade mixtures are a mix of grass seeds that can be grown under trees or in shade. You can buy packs of these seed called “shade combination” which contain a variety of grass seeds. Rye grass and Fescues are the most suitable varieties for growing under trees. They can take some shade. These aren’t running varieties so it is important to spread enough seed to ensure coverage.