Cedar Hedge and Grass


I live in east Toronto and have a small backyard with about 30 feet of cedar hedges. I’ve tried to lay sod twice and each time it “takes” for a while and then dries out and dies. There is a small slope where I’m trying to lay the sod, sloping away from the cedars. I’m thinking from what I’ve read and experienced it is the cedars that are robbing the nutrients from the grass, but have am only guessing. From what I’ve seen ground cover is recommended, but am unsure of what to plant and honestly how. Creeping Jenny has been recommended. I’ve attached a picture and would appreciate advice.
Thank you Nancy


Hello Nancy, and thank you for your question about a possible groundcover near your cedar hedge.

It is understandable that you are having trouble with establishing grass beside your cedar hedge. As another Master Gardener put it in answer to a similar question

“The issue with planting in  front of the cedar is competition for water and nutrients between the cedar hedge and the newly planted perennials. Your best choice for planting in front is to choose something that is extremely drought tolerant and requires very little light.”

It is difficult to tell from your photo what the light conditions are close to your hedge.  However, even if the grass is in full sun, the hedge roots will take up all the water available to them and make it difficult for grass to establish.

A drought-tolerant ground cover may be easier for you to maintain than grass in this situation. This gardening guide from the Toronto Master Gardeners contains some suggestions for alternatives to grass. Please note this garden guide has a reference to Lily of The Valley- we now consider this plant to be invasive and do not recommend it.


Here is a guide from the University of Guelph which also outlines alternatives to grass.


These guides should provide you with ideas for groundcovers which might be more successful in your light and water conditions.

Good luck with your plantings!