How to Trim Grass Around Trees

Grass and trees are the makings for a perfect, beautiful yard. However, if you’ve ever tried to keep the grass around trees neatly trimmed, you probably know it can be a hassle. You risk damaging your trees and having uneven grass and a lawn that looks unkempt. If you take pride in your yard, you will want to know the best way to trim around trees. This article will give you all the information you need to keep your trees safe while achieving a flawless lawn.

How to Trim Grass Around Trees

Trees look mighty but their health is vulnerable to improper lawn care. Damaging the roots or the bark of a tree leaves it vulnerable to disease, pests, and death. You want to take caution when mowing, never getting too close to the tree. Hand sheers and hand picking are the safest ways to trim close to the tree without damaging it.


When mowing, it is advisable to leave a three-to-five-foot radius around a tree. Going any closer risks damaging the tree and its roots. Never mow over exposed roots and remove all debris from the yard before getting started. If you leave rocks and other debris strewn around the yard, you risk indirectly harming your tree if debris ricochets off the mower’s blades and hits the tree. Motorized weed whackers, or string trimmers, are also dangerous to your tree’s integrity.

Hand Trimming

The safest way to trim grass within a few feet around your tree is to use hand trimmers. Any motorized equipment risks nicking or lacerating the bark, leaving your tree vulnerable. Hand sheers will give you the control you need to achieve a close trim while keeping your tree safe. Before getting started, be sure your trimmer’s blades are sharp and clean. You can wipe them down with rubbing alcohol to remove any bacteria just in case they accidentally come into contact with your tree.

Once your hand trimmer’s blades are sharp and clean, you can get started. If you left a three-to-foot radius of unmowed grass around your tree, you will want to trim this grass down to the level of the rest of your lawn, or perhaps remove it all together. When you get to the base of the tree, hold your trimmer parallel to the trunk so that you do not risk nicking it while cutting the grass. If you cannot safely trim the grass closest to the trunk, simply pull it by hand.

Should I Remove Grass Around Trees?

Removing the grass directly around the tree’s trunk frees it from competition over essential resources. This is especially helpful for young trees that are growing at a fast rate and require lots of water and sunlight. When removing grass from around young trees, you may want to pull it by hand rather than risk any damage, even from hand trimmers. This is because young trees are extremely vulnerable to damage. Even the slightest nick can lead to death in newly planted trees.

How Much Grass Should I Remove Around Trees?

Sometimes it can be a good idea to remove the grass around the tree altogether, rather than simply trimming it to be in line with the rest of the yard. Neighboring plants compete for resources such as sun and water so removing grass may help your tree grow faster and stay healthier. If you choose to remove grass, you will want to use the same method described in the section above, never using motorized equipment within a few feet of the tree.

If you do decide to remove the grass from around your tree, you may want to replace it with mulch or grass clippings. Just how much grass should you remove if you decide to go this route? A good rule of thumb is to leave 18 inches around.

After removing the grass, you can place a thin layer of grass clippings or mulch to the area to keep grass and weeds from growing in the area. Be mindful not to pile mulch or clippings too high or directly on the tree’s trunk.

Planting Around Your Trees

Even if your tree is mature and healthy, you may want to remove the grass surrounding it for other reasons. Some homeowners like the look of plants around their trees rather than grass. This also means that you won’t need to worry about trimming around the tree on a regular basis. Before selecting plants to put in around the tree, notice how much sunlight gets to the base of the tree. This will help you select the plants that will do best in this environment.

If you choose to plant around your healthy adult tree, it is a good idea to add a thin layer of mulch around the new plants. Tree roots take in huge amounts of water. Adding mulch helps to keep moisture in the ground so that both your tree and your new plants can thrive.

Bricks and Rocks

If you want to remove the grass around your tree but don’t want the hassle of taking care of new plants, or think your tree won’t stand the competition, bricks and rocks are other great options. They can be arranged around the base of the tree, leaving at least eight-to-ten inches between them and the tree’s trunk. This is an especially great option if your tree has roots that extend aboveground. The rock or brick formation will protect your tree’s fragile roots if you accidentally mow too close.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your trees while keeping a well-manicured yard may be a challenge but it is very doable. Consider the health and age of your trees, as well as convenience, when deciding how you want to tackle the job. Healthy adult trees can survive with grass and plants in close proximity, while newly planted trees will do better alone. Removing the grass around a tree’s trunk and opting for mulch, grass clippings, rocks, or bricks may be easier than constantly trimming. The choice is yours.

Leave a Comment