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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.

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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 - April 24, 2009

From: Greenville, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Planting grass seed in Greenville SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What type of grass seed is best to use in a sunny/ shady area where some grass is already growing? And how is the best way to prep the area for seed and fertilizer or what should I do before and after spreading seed?

ANSWER:

This is a pretty wide-ranging question, and whole books have been written to answer it. We are going to find some information for you from sources that know more about what they are talking about than we do, and then we are going to suggest native grasses for South Carolina. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Most of the grasses presently in use for lawns are non-native, some are invasive, and most require a lot of fertilizer, water and maintenance. Most of the native grasses are not mowed, but grow to be graceful features of a garden area.

Let us get you started on this subject by recommending you read a couple of our How-To Articles: Using Native Plants and Native Lawns. Also, notice the Bibliographies with these articles; you might be able to pick up some good books on the subject at your Library or bookstore.

Now, some references found on the Internet: Planting a new lawn from seed, from the website Dummies.com. Please don't be insulted by the name of the website, it really was the best information we could find. Most of the lawn websites are from companies who are specifically selling a particular grass seed or type of grass or even lawn care; we were looking for something a little more unbiased. Another good source for local gardening information is the Clemson University Extension Office for Greenville Co.  Their home page has contact information and website. They will not necessarily recommend native grasses, as we are going to, but they probably have publications on specific methods of planting a lawn. Follow the plant links below to the webpage on each individual grass, read other information on it, including propagation methods, amount of water needed, etc.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - perennial, warm season grass, 4 to 8 ft. tall, sun to part shade

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft. tall, sun, part shade

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)- perennial, deciduous, 1 to 3 ft. tall, sun

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - perennial, 10 to 18 inches tall, part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - perennial, 10 to 12 inches tall, sun, part shade

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - perennial, 2 to 4 ft. tall, part shade, shade

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft., sun

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - perennial, 18 to 24 inches, sun, part shade


Chasmanthium latifolium


Carex texensis

Bouteloua hirsuta

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Andropogon gerardii


Muhlenbergia capillaris

 


Schizachyrium scoparium
 

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