What do I do with all these spruce needles?

I got another interesting question recently. We handle tree care as well as lawn care, and you’d be surprised how much overlap there is.

“Spruce needles (lots of reddish brown needles) have fallen from very old trees onto my lawn, the trees cannot be saved, but what do I do with the lawn?  Can I leave the needles or do I have to remove them?”

Evergreens drop some needles annually as part of their growing process, especially when they are old or sick. This is a problem for turfgrass because when the needles break down, they cause a “matting effect” in the soil bed surrounding the tree causing difficulty for turf (or most plants for that matter) to grow well.  “Matting” means that the needles, which are slow to decompose, are layered with pockets of air and no real soil, leaving nothing to properly root into.  In addition, they can contribute to making the soil more acidic.

Once the pH of the soil starts going down, it is very difficult for the grass to absorb nutrients. That’s one of the main reasons why you never see really healthy grass underneath pines and spruces.

You can improve the situation with regular limings – that will help bring the pH back up. you can also try to rake up the needles to reduce the matting effect, and adding a small amount of organic matter by way of topdressing to help.  But you need to remember, growing grass under the canopy and shade of any mature tree, and competing with its root system is really difficult if not impossible.  You will never get the grass under your evergreens to look as nice as the rest of your lawn.

Another fix would be to find a more suitable landscape idea for underneath trees, try just  mulching under the base and the outer perimeter of your trees. That way you could have thick, lush grass up to the drip-line of the trees with a clean transition to attractive wood mulch. Much nicer than your lawn just petering out in sickly-looking tufts.

**Another point to remember: Poor fertilization choices can cause soil to become more acidic over time, so it very important to know your soil and choose the right fertility program for your lawn- not just any off the shelf package with good marketing!

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  • Coping with Covid Update: (updated 05/08/20)

    Hi Everyone, 

    I’m happy to share some good news during these crazy times. LawnSavers has resumed servicing lawns in all areas and lawn care services that provide for lawn health are officially on the Provincial list of essential services due to the fact we can provide this service safely and with no personal contact!

    If you haven’t seen us yet, you will see us within the next 7-10 days. We do not expect any delay in our regular timing of applications (except from the wintry weather).  We put together an easy to read lawn care service timeline that you can use to know when to expect us for each scheduled service in your package. 

    I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and customers.  Safety and honesty are our two most important core values.  We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines that ensure “zero touch”.  We will not let our guard down on exercising our safety protocols!

    Our office is open but with less staff in order to maintain safety protocols like social distancing.   Please note our phones are experiencing a high volume of calls and we know how much everyone hates being left on hold, so please leave us a message or email us at  and we will get back to you in less than 24 hours.
    Please be patient with us, we will get back to you as fast as possible.
    You can also sign up for services on our website by clicking here.

    Thank you all for your understanding and patience during these challenging times. Our team works hard, so if you are met with our exceptional service from our technicians or office team members- please give them a thumbs up to make them smile or let me know through a quick email to

    We thank you for supporting a family owned local business of 30 years, we genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and promise that we will do our part to ensure our mutual safety and be on your lawn as soon as possible.  

    Thank you in advance,
    Kyle Tobin
    Chief Environmental Officer