Is Artificial Turf Good for Trees?

tree planted in yard with artificial turf

Given the year-round vibrant green it provides for a minimum of maintenance, artificial turf is an attractive option for many homeowners. Yet synthetic grass comes with its own challenges, and that’s certainly true in the case of your yard’s trees.

Problems With Synthetic Turf & Trees

The issues with artificial turf and trees are many, and have to do with the unique disruption to natural soil processes posed by the installation of synthetic grass.

Porous to some degree, synthetic turf doesn’t allow the same free movement of air, water, and nutrients down into the soil as natural grass cover. This can limit the ability of roots to draw up enough water, oxygen, and energy to sustain the tree.

It also has a detrimental impact on soil microfauna, decreasing or eliminating populations of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that supply nutrients to—and, in some cases, help facilitate uptake by—tree roots.

Furthermore, site preparation for synthetic-turf installation often involves the use of herbicides, which can naturally have deleterious effects on adjacent trees.

Tree Care & Solutions When Using Artificial Lawns

turf in yard where tree is planted in GeorgiaThe best thing you can do for your yardscape’s trees when it comes to artificial turf is keeping a substantial buffer (several feet or more) between the synthetic grass and your trees, allowing for natural ground cover immediately around the base of the trunk. This helps ensure a steady supply of air, water, and nutrients to the tree’s roots, and supports a healthier soil ecosystem.

You can also fertilize trees in artificial lawns, compensating for the lower levels of soil nutrients and beneficial soil life.

A pernicious issue with artificial turf is that ever-present green hue to the synthetic grass, which, during stretches of drought or heatwaves, may mask the water deficits that trees and other living plants in your yardscape are suffering from. So be sure to keep up an appropriate watering routine during these dry or hot periods, even though you don’t get the usual cue of a browning lawn.

Excel Tree Care: Your Source for Top-Quality Tree Care in Greater Atlanta

Whether you’re thinking of installing synthetic turf and want to know how to best safeguard your trees, or you’ve already got an artificial lawn and want to improve conditions for trees, get in touch with the experts at Excel Tree Care! It’s a good idea in either case to have a professional arborist assess your trees and recommend a good course of action for keeping them healthy in the context of artificial turf.

You can get in touch with Excel Tree Care—serving customers in Atlanta’s north metro area and offering 24/7 emergency assistance as part of our comprehensive services—by calling (404) 964-6508 or filling out our online contact form.