Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - April 18, 2006

From: River Grove, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Possible ground covers under pine trees in Illinois
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Have pine trees in front of house. No luck with the lawn around them....was told it's because of ground acidity. Any tips on how to get a lawn to grow there? If not, can you suggest some ground cover that would grow there and look good without needing to be mowed often ? Thank you.

ANSWER:

If it really is an acidity issue, adding lime to the soil should help. You can have your soil pH tested. Your Cook County agent from the University Of Illinois Extension Service should be able to help you with the testing. They often provide a kit and will test for a nominal fee. The more likely cause is lack of sunlight through the canopy of the trees. While pines usually provide a fine, filtered sunlight, they can often create a fairly dense shade in which all grass will struggle to grow. Here are a few suggestions for native plants that grow in the shade in Illinois that could provide ground cover under your pines:

Vines
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Ferns
Crested wood fern (Dryopteris cristata)
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

Other groundcovers
Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense)
Running strawberry-bush (Euonymus obovata)
Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides)

Addtionally, many grass and grass-like natives will grow in partial shade. You can see those that do so in Illinois by doing a Combination Search in the Native Plants Database and selecting "Grass/Grass-like", "Shade" and "Illinois" from the options on the Advanced Search page.

You can look for suppliers of native plants in your area in the National Suppliers Directory on our webpage. A nursery in your area specializing in native plants and your Agricultural Extension Agent might have other recommendations for appropriate native ground covers.
 

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for a dry slope in PA
May 23, 2013 - My side yard is a slope with rocky (a lot of small serpentine rocks) soil under white and black pine trees. I can grow lots of weeds :-) but would like to plant a low (0-3in) evergreen ground cover th...
view the full question and answer

Pros and cons of Hydrocotyl bonariensis as lawn replacement
March 22, 2008 - Want to convert lawn TO dollar weed! My Garland TX yard has become so shady over the years that I have a hard time with grass. A few years ago I noticed dollar weed in the grass which seemed to cre...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Moreno Valley, CA
May 17, 2012 - Hi, I live in Moreno Valley, CA I have a huge flower bed area surrounding our grass I am looking for the best ground cover that will have minimal up keep.
view the full question and answer

Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
March 20, 2013 - I Have a wet area in my back yard that is close to my house. and off my patio there is a water hydrant,gas meter, electrical for my hot tub, my sprinkler valves and pump all there. My dog digs throug...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with Horse herb in Austin, TX.
December 12, 2012 - I'm considering replacing my St. Augustine grass with a Horseherb/Straggler Daisy ground cover, but I've heard that it provides a mosquito breeding habitat, especially if you allow dead leaves to de...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.