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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - August 31, 2007

From: Frederick, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Turf
Title: Replacement of lawn with native grasses in Maryland
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in west central Maryland within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. My soil is heavy clay and nutrient deficient. I have/am planting native flower beds and a vegetable garden in an effort to reduce the amount of lawn I have, however, not all of the lawn will go. Currently, the lawn is in a dismal state with most of it either crabgrass or dry and dead due to our current drought conditions. I am looking for a native grass or grasses, including fescues, that I could use to plant and transform my current sad-state-of-affairs lawn into a more native and environmentally-preferred one. I have read some info and noticed that Pennsylvania sedge and red fescue (both native to the watershed) are good replacements. How do I replace my ENTIRE lawn with them? And do you have any other ideas or suggestions as well as places to purchase them? Thank you.

ANSWER:

We could write a very long reply to your question and not come close to providing answers to your questions as useful as a wonderful on-line resource written just for folks in your area. Bayscapes: Native Plant Guides, a publication of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service may be the best of its kind anywhere in the US. It provides excellent advice on landscaping with native plants, how to select them and where to find them. Two books that will be excellent resources for you are: Wild Lawn Handbood: Alternatives to the Traditionals Front Lawn, by Stevie Daniels and Secrets to Great Soil, by Elisabeth Stell. Finally, we highly recommend contacting your local Maryland Cooperative Extension Service agent for very specific recommendations for your particular landscape.
 

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