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What to Grow Under a Norway Maple

We have a Norway maple tree located in the center of our backyard. We love the shade it gives us. However, the roots are very exposed and grass does not want to grow under it. Do you have any suggestions for us to make the area a little more aesthetically appealing?

The dense canopy and the competition for water and nutrients make it difficult to grow grass under Norway maples. You have several options for improving the landscape. Spread a three inch layer of shredded bark or wood chips under the tree. This creates a better growing environment for the tree while improving the appearance of your backyard.

Or consider planting shade tolerant groundcovers under the tree. Hostas, wild ginger, deadnettle (Lamium maculatum), variegated yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon ‘Variegatum’), and barrenwort (Epimedium) are just a few of the plants you could try.

Use caution when planting these around established trees. Do NOT add soil around the tree. This can cause decline and even death of the tree. Do NOT deeply till the soil, this can kill the important feeder roots. Instead, dig holes slightly larger than the groundcover's root ball. Space the plants throughout the bare area and mulch with an organic material. Water thoroughly and regularly the first few seasons to speed up establishment. The groundcovers will eventually fill in and beautify this area.


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