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?


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

Monday - October 26, 2009

Region: Midwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Small perennials & grasses for a naturalized lawn
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I am looking for native perennials and grasses that will grow no more than 8 inches tall that can be used in a naturalized lawn in Michigan. What 5 plants would be your first choice?


That is a very tall order ... because most suitable plants would be much taller as they are prairie plants. But here are few selected from our Recommended Species list. 

Some of them are woodland plants which may not thirive if your lawn is too sunny and dry.  If you click on the link and do the search, you may find plants who have shorter relatives in the nurseries.  You may also have some luck if you search out rock garden plants.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood)

Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Sisyrinchium montanum (strict blue-eyed grass)

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet)

Carex pensylvanica

Cornus canadensis

Dalea purpurea

Sisyrinchium montanum

Viola pedata

More Turf Questions

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

Can you grow wildflowers on a Zoysia greenroof?
June 09, 2015 - I have a 700 square foot zoysia grass roof with irrigation on a pool cabana that I would like to sprinkle with wildflower seeds (bluebonnets, indian paintbrush etc) Is this possible? What is the best ...
view the full question and answer

Water loving companions for a vegetable bed in Greenlawn New York
May 25, 2011 - I have a plot in a community garden that has poor drainage in one corner. I've installed raised beds, and that has helped immensely, but I'd like to plant some native plants in the wet corner that c...
view the full question and answer

Need shade friendly native grass for lawn under pine trees in Carthage, TX.
September 07, 2010 - My home is situated on six acres of woods in the East Texas piney woods area. Other than a few beds I have tried to plant, the yard has not been landscaped. I am trying to cover dirt and weeds in a p...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for lawn in Michigan
June 14, 2009 - I want to plant a lawn of grasses that are native to Michigan specifically. My soil is a little sandy in some spots and is moderately moist. I have been researching on the internet and I *think* tha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center