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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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Thursday - March 24, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacing grass with native Texas sedges
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have been trying to grow native Texas sedges instead of grass in my back yard for the last two years. Much of it is shaded by a canopy of elms, juniper, and oak. I have put a local organic fertilizer on them, but still they stay small and thin. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Since most people consider sedges a weed intruding on their turf lawns, there is more information on how to eliminate sedges from lawns than there is on growing them. However, sedges make a beautiful lawn on their own. John Greenlee in "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape" writes about their beauty, utility, and easy maintenance. He describes two native Texas sedges, Texas, or Catlin, sedge (Carex texensis) and Meadow, or Texas Hill Country, sedge (C. perdentata). I'm not sure which of these you have (probably C. texensis), but neither should need any fertilizer or other chemicals. Both should grow well in shade and tolerate hot, dry weather. However, sedges can be particular about where they grow and can be slow to establish themselves even if they like where they are growing. Some sedges prefer a dry soil that drains well and some prefer a moist soil. You might consider trying several different species of sedges to see which grows most successfully.
 

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