Leaves on Artificial Turf

As we often remind you in our blogs, choosing the right location for a tree is the first step to a successful planting. But this can go beyond simply identifying the right spot in your yard. You might also be wondering if you can plant a tree in an artificial turf lawn, or in decomposed granite or gravel. Do trees have to be planted in a traditional planter bed?

In short, yes, designers can plan for artificial turf installations to go around existing trees, shrubs, and other plants. It is better to install the turf around existing trees (vs. cutting a hole in the turf and planting a new tree, but that can also be done). Just make sure you create the proper edging after adding a tree to artificial turf to prevent future issues. Speaking of potential future challenges, be sure to double check the manufacturer’s warranty to make sure the tree doesn’t void any warranties offered.

If you do decide you’d like a tree in your artificial turf, choose a drought-tolerant species that requires little water or pruning. All trees require some maintenance, but the easier the better in this case. After the tree is planted, be sure to fertilize the tree and provide the right nutrients. The extra heat that artificial turf generates will be hard on the tree, so proper nutrition will be even more important than normal.

Even drought tolerant trees need water (especially with our historically low rainfall of late). One thing to keep in mind is that Southern CA is known for having hard water. Why does that matter? Watering a tree with hard water can lead to staining issues with your artificial turf. You might want to wash the turf off periodically so that those tree-water stains don’t impact the aesthetics of your landscape.

All trees drop leaves (even the evergreen ones). Typically, when you mow grass, the small leaf loss that occurs throughout the year will go unnoticed. Not so with artificial turf. Leaves that fall on synthetic grass need to be removed but be sure not to use a rake with metal tines as that can damage your turf. A leaf blower, broom or plastic rake would be your best bet. We’ve seen some people that prefer a shop vac for this cleanup, but keep in mind that you’ll be needing more sand/infill than normal if you decide to go that route.

If you decide that planting trees in artificial turf is more work than it’s worth, we get it. Other than a traditional mulched planting border, you can also plant a new tree in decomposed granite (aka DG) or gravel. Because these materials drain so well, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the moisture needs of the tree. Before planting it, amend the soil with nutrient rich compost and verify the functionality of the drip system. Spray systems will not work with this kind of landscape mulch, so drip will be a must.

Dealing with leaves on gravel or decomposed granite can be a bit tricky because you don’t want to move the substrate itself. A leaf blower provides your best option, or you can use a rake with very flexible tines (as opposed to stiff ones).

If you have questions about installing a tree in any type of landscape, just give us a call. We can help you decide which options are best for your situation.

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