Landscaping under Pine Trees

Landscaping Under Pine Trees

Putting in a garden under pine trees can be a tricky pursuit. At first glance, you might think that the lack of sunlight, acidic soil, and bed of pine needles will not support growing many flowers and grasses. However, a wide variety of plants can thrive under pine trees with a little bit of targeted effort, ranging from colourful hydrangeas to more subtle ground cover. We at Sand & Stone Landscaping are here to help you find a range of flowers and plants that will grow well by or in the shade of your pine tree.

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Getting Started Under the Pines

Although some plants do well naturally under a pine tree, for most plants, you will need to provide extra care at the start of the planting process.

Before you plant your garden, be sure to clear out the area under your pine trees first. Removing the needles and twigs in the area under the trees will allow for more sunlight and moisture to reach the soil. For this reason, we also advise you to cut or prune the bottom branches of your pine tree. Different gardening experts recommend that you clear up to anywhere between 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

After you have exposed the area, you should measure the pH level of your soil, and if necessary, take measures to increase the pH level of the soil since the soil under pine trees is typically acidic. One way to do this is to add lime to the soil. The forms of lime that we recommend for this purpose are powdered limestone and chalk. Adding lime is certainly not necessary in all circumstances, especially because the acidic soil under pine trees can range in pH level.

Another way to decrease acidic soil to make the area more conducive to growing plants is to gently till the soil beneath the pine tree, being careful not to damage the pine tree’s roots. Tilling will loosen up the soil for planting. Some gardeners choose to dig out a few inches of soil very carefully and then replace it with new topsoil.

Once you have prepped the area beneath your pine tree to create the best planting conditions, it is time to choose your plants.

What Grows Well Under a Pine Tree?

Plants that will grow under pine trees have a few consistent attributes. These plants:

  • can thrive in acidic soil
  • like shade and do not need a lot of sunlight
  • require minimal water
  • are hardy enough to handle falling pine needles

Plants That Grow Well Under Pine Trees


Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley, known for its lovely white flowers that may also be pale pink, is one of the most popular flowers to plant under pine trees, and for good reasons. Although it requires your care to grow well at first, after a year of diligent watering, you will discover that it is a perennial that will continue to bloom each spring.

Though the conditions beneath a pine tree are best for lilies of the valley, other kinds of lilies can also do well in the shade. They stand out as a great option because they come in many colours, such as red, yellow, orange, and magenta.


Like lilies, hydrangeas come in several stunning colours, including several shades of reds, blues, pinks, and purples. Changing the pH level of the soil can sometimes change the colour of the hydrangea. Hydrangeas do well in the shade. They initially need moist soil to blossom, but over time they become acclimated to drier soil conditions, making them an excellent fit for beneath your pine tree.

Wild Geraniums

Wild geraniums are some of the most resilient plants out there. In nature, you will generally find geraniums in the forest where there is ample compost of pine needles, leaves, and other plants.

Wild geraniums contribute significantly to the ecosystem of your backyard garden as well. They attract pollinators such as bumblebees and honeybees. They protect your garden as well, as some people believe that their scent is unpleasant for deer or similar animals that may want to eat your plants.

These plants grow under pine trees well as companions to several other plants that also can deal with the shady conditions at the base of a pine tree, such as columbine, woodland phlox, and ferns.


Rhododendrons are another colourful perennial plant that does best in more acidic soil. You can choose the colour of your rhododendrons to complement the other flowers in your garden. Rhododendrons like the shade as well as the partial sunlight that naturally comes through tree branches.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding hearts need lots of water for the first two weeks after you plant them. After that initial period, the plants can blossom pretty independently. Bleeding hearts have several benefits: they like shade, they deter deer and rabbits, they require little pruning, and their trademark pink blossoms lend a quaint touch to your garden.

Different kinds of bleeding heart plants have distinct growing attributes. Some grow up to 3 feet tall and are less likely to spread, whereas others grow 1 to 1.5 feet tall and are more likely to grow and spread quickly. We recommend planting the latter option under pine trees.

Bleeding Hearts Flowers

Grasses That Grow Well Under Pine Trees

Fescue Grass

It can be challenging to plant grass that will flourish under pine trees. Generally, fescue grass is the grass that will do best to grow under pine trees.

However, fescue grass still requires some exposure to sunlight as it is growing. This need for light is one of the reasons that pruning the bottom branches of your pine trees is so important since it will allow those rays of sunlight to get in.

Fescue grass is also relatively drought-tolerant, but it does require moisture, especially at first.

Other Grasses

Some other grasses to plant under your pine trees are centipede, Bermuda, and zoysia grasses. These three plants all grow better in slightly warmer climates.

What Is the Best Ground Cover Under Pine Trees?

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff is particularly suitable for growing under pine trees. Sweet woodruff is a little-known herb that loves the shade. The plants are green leaves with tiny white flowers.

Sweet woodruff is both low-maintenance and tough enough to grow under trees. This flowery ground cover can handle pine needles as well as limited moisture for quite some time.

Bearberry Plants

Bearberry plants do best in full sun, but they can also grow well in the shade. Although they may not appear to be so at first, bearberry plants are technically considered shrubs.

The bearberry plant can have a slow start for its first year after planting, but after that, it spreads quickly, even in the shade.

Bearberry Plants

Wrapping It All Up

Finding the perfect plant that will flourish under your pine tree can be challenging at first, but with research and commitment, you can create a lovely yard and garden. Whether you choose flowers, grasses, or both, the plants under your trees can serve as a pleasant complement to any other gardens on your property.

Contact us today

Would you like to turn your landscaping ideas into reality? Contact us today to get started.

At Sand and Stone Landscapes, we bring our trademark dedication and enthusiasm to every project. If you have a specific vision, we can help you to carry it out to the best of our ability. If you have no idea what you are looking for yet, we can guide you through the process and show you our many completed projects. You can also visit our reviews page to read firsthand accounts from our many satisfied customers.

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