En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 07, 2005

From: Portland, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Turf
Title: Low maintenance native plants for sloping lawn in Maine
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, we live in Maine and have clay-ey soil with a lot of sun. I suspect the soil is acidic as well. We would like to replace at least part of our small front lawn with native ground cover or grasses. The lawn is steeply sloped in some places and mowing is a big problem. Also, we have a lot of weeds now and are concerned that getting a lawn going would require the use of lots of pesticides and herbicides which we would like to avoid. Do you have any suggestions for native plants that would not be too time consuming?

ANSWER:

Grasses generally do well in sunny areas. Fescue grasses (Genus Festuca) are low growing, have very fine texture, tolerate drought, grow both in the sun and shade, and prefer acid soil. There is an excellent article, Low & Slow Fescues by Stevie Daniels, that describes their use and the characteristics of several different species of Festuca. The Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin has the "no-mow" fescue seed mix. Steve Daniels also has an article, Planting a Native Grass Lawn Step by Step to guide you through the process. You can also download an article in PDF format, Native Lawns, from the Native Plant Library on our web page. Although the article is geared towards Buffalo grass and Central Texas, it has tips for preparing the site and maintaining the lawn.

Suggestions for partial sun or shade includes two ferns: 1) Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Connecticut Botanical Society has pictures. And, 2) Sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina).

Three ground cover plants that would do well in Maine in the shade are: 1) Canadian bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), 2) Trailing-arbutus (Epigaea repens), and 3) Red Bearberry or Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). This last one will also grow in partial shade.
 

More Turf Questions

Native grasses and turf grass for VA
February 08, 2012 - I recently moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. I am becoming involved with a church here that recently started a grounds committee. There is some discussion within the group of which varieties of native ...
view the full question and answer

Grassy "weed" invasion in Bermuda grass lawn
July 09, 2007 - Our grass is being totally overrun by this weed.(I don't know what the name is but I do know it's not the dandelion weed or the thin grassy weed). It is Bermuda grass and I really don't know how to...
view the full question and answer

Process of converting from lawn to wildflower meadow in New Jersey
March 17, 2006 - I live in northern New Jersey and have an acre of property which is currently a grassy lawn. I would like to make a meadow where the lawn is. What is the process to convert from a lawn to a meadow? Th...
view the full question and answer

Short wildflowers to interplant with grass in PA
July 05, 2011 - I live in NE PA and would like to grow short wildflowers throughout my yard mixed in with my grass. Is this possible? If so, what would be a good match for my zone? I will be mowing the grass once a w...
view the full question and answer

Perennial wildflowers for lawn in Dallas
May 02, 2010 - What perennial wildflowers can I plant in Dallas Texas that will bloom in March or early April that I can just toss out on the lawn? I know you have to soak bluebonnets.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center