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Shade Problems

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From: Lynn Eikenbary
Schaumburg, IL
Our condominium community has a few large areas under mature trees that are mostly bare of grass (especially under maples) with lots of exposed tree roots. We have trimmed up some of the trees to try to allow more sun, but it hasn't seemed to help much. Some of our board of directors want to cut down the trees. In lieu of cutting down these beautiful mature trees, what other solutions might be taken? What shade tolerant grasses might do well? Are there any ground covers (myrtle and creeping charlie are out of the question) or sedges (pennsylvania sedge seems a little tall for this area) that are very short and would still allow people to walk on them without tripping? Or is our best solution just a thin layer of wood chips over the entire area? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Extension Message
From: Richard Hentschel
Extension Educator, Horticulture
DuPage/Kane/Kendall Unit
I addressed part of this in another email. If the trees remain, the best shade tolerant grasses are fine fescues. Growing in the shade they should not be over fertilized or over watered. Surface roots are normal and could be lightly covered to make mowing easier. Some shade tolerant ground covers include: Hosta, Ajuga, columbine, bleeding hearts, ferns, wild ginger, sweet woodrug, turtlehead. At somepoint when the sunlight is so low, mulch, statuary, a collection of boulders done tastefully set in the mulch area can provide visual interest.

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