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Over the years the soil in my back yard has gotten harder and harder. I have a BIG tree that provides a lot of shade but figure the problem is the roots being so close to the surface. Also I have kids and animals who practically live in the back yard. I tried once putting down a load of topsoil but it quickly seemed to disappear. There are only a few tufts of grass over half of my back yard. HELP
 

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DIY'er
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Over the years the soil in my back yard has gotten harder and harder. I have a BIG tree that provides a lot of shade but figure the problem is the roots being so close to the surface. Also I have kids and animals who practically live in the back yard. I tried once putting down a load of topsoil but it quickly seemed to disappear. There are only a few tufts of grass over half of my back yard. HELP
Stop fighting the problem. Grass is hard to grow under many trees. Go pick out a much you like and spread it around generously under the trees.
 

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dinodad
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I agree with the previous post. My backyard is on a slope and gets the afternoon sun. I wasn't able to keep enough water on it to keep anything green and growing. Add in 3 dogs and 3 boys and you have a backyard that looked like a war zone. I finally said nuts to it. I created a LARGE kennel for the dogs, kept a small section of grass that did seem to grow, and put the remainder of the yard into mulch, plants, flowers, etc. I also put in a stone patio, jazzed it up some with outdoor furniture and potted plants....and "Viola"...I actually have what looks to be a backyard!
 

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I am all about the mulch too. I have lots of trees, some I am making into large beds with pine straw (under pine and cedar trees) the rest I am surrounding the base with mulch. I got my back yard graded to move water to one area and and building a dry creek bed, so I can cover surface roots without the soil washing away again. Cut a few trees in the back yard to get sun for grass. U can probably grow grass under trees. Have a neighbor that has an awesome lawn with tons of tree but he waters a lot and I bet he overseeds fescue every two months.

If roots aren't in the way, try using an aerator on the compacted soils where you want grass.
 
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