En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 replacement for middle school lawn in AR.
November 03, 2010 - I'm doing a project to help out our green middle school replace the grass in front of the school with something that stays short but is also native to the region. Can you recommend one that I can use...
view the full question and answer

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf in Houston
January 30, 2012 - I want to install a Multi-Species Native Lawn, like HABITURF. However, I live in Houston, Texas and most of your information on this topic doesn't address my region. As I don't have a heavily shaded...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating bluebonnets from lawn
December 05, 2009 - I need to know the best way to eliminate bluebonnets which are growing in my yard. My HOA is pursuing legal action against me to prevent me growing the plants. I can't afford to "resod" my yard. Ca...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf installation after Take-All fungus
January 24, 2012 - Are other soil remedies needed (besides those listed in your Habiturf brochure) to install Habiturf on land which had a St. Augustine lawn which was decimated by take all patch.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center