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
1 rating

Friday - June 19, 2009

From: Bakersfield , CA
Region: California
Topic: Turf
Title: Low sedge for lawn in Bakersfield, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a small area for a lawn, but would like to get away from a traditional "lawn". Can you recommend a sedge grass that would act like a lawn (not much foot traffic)that can be mowed once in a while and not take a lot of water. The temperature ranges from a few 30 degree days in the winter, to well into the l00's about 10 days a year in the summer. The area gets full sun most of the day. We live in zone 9.The soil is mostly clay.

ANSWER:

You can go to our Native Plant Database, select "California" and "grass or grass-like" on the pull-down menus for State and Habit, and click on the 'Submit combination box." When we did this, we got 248 possibilities for carex (genus for sedge) and other grasses, native to California. We narrowed it down to Carex native to California, and got 46 possibilities. When, however, we started checking with the USDA Plant Profile for some of these choices, we found very few that are native to South Central California in the Kern County area. It would seem that sedges, in general, are not fond of the environment in your area.

We wonder if perhaps we are barking up the wrong tree. We often suggest Meadow Gardens for people desiring to get away from the traditional lawn. Please read our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening and see if some of the ideas might be applied to your situation. Another article of interest in your situation is Native Lawns.  Unfortunately, the favorite native grass mix of Texas,  Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) does not appear to grow in your area, but there are other good suggestions in the article. 

To get some input from some experts a little closer to the situation than we are, we suggest the California Native Grasslands Association website. It has a number of links where you can get more information, particularly for your part of California. Another source of assistance on choosing lawn plantings is the Kern County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Also, consider contacting the University of California Cooperative Extension Office for Kern County.

 

More Turf Questions

Chigger Control in Habiturf from Plano, TX
April 08, 2015 - We converted our back yard in Plano, Texas to Habiturf last spring/summer and have a nice lawn; however, for the first time since we have lived in this house for 32 years, the lawn was full of chigger...
view the full question and answer

How Can I Replace my Lawn with Natives in Houston, Texas
January 12, 2011 - I want to remove the turf grass from my lawn and put in gravel and sand. I want to put in native and adapted plants that will attract butterflies and I want different native and adapted ornamental g...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for Round Rock, Texas lawn
November 12, 2008 - Hello, I just moved into a new place and the grass in the back yard is very spotty. I would like to know the best seed to put down to cure this problem. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Shade plants to replace a lawn in PA
June 01, 2011 - Our neighborhood is built into a hill and our backyard is along the slope. We cannot keep grass in the area (except for a few clumps). The area is mostly shaded and moist-dry however when rain comes t...
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

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