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Saturday - May 29, 2010

From: Chevy Chase, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for Boy Scout project in the Georgetown-Washington DC area
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am in the process of preparing an extensive native grass planting at Thompson's Boat House in Georgetown, Washington DC for a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Project. It is my intention to plant native grasses to salvage the barren landscape that now exists there. I was wondering if planting grasses native to Montgomery County, Maryland would be acceptable in Georgetown, and whether you have a recommendation as to what type of grass I should use. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.


Since Montgomery County lies adjacent to Washington DC, it would be fine to use grasses native to the county for projects in the Georgtown area.  You can compare the grasses native to Washington DC with those of Maryland by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database.  Choose either Maryland or Washington DC from the Select State of Province box and then 'Grass/grass-like' from Habit (general appearance).  You will see that there are 218 species listed for DC and 314 for Maryland.  Just to be on the safe side you could use the Washington DC list to choose from.  Here are some choices from the DC list, but I think you will find them on either list.  For best results and coverage, it would be a good idea to use a combination of grasses for your project.  Most grasses grow well in the sun (more than 6 hours of sun per day).  Some will grow in the part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) or shade (less than 2 hours sun per day).  You will need to check the 'Growing Conditions' for each species to see that it meets the characteristics of your site. 

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)  If there is an area near the water that stays moist most of the time, this is a very good grass to put there.

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) great for shady areas.

Deschampsia cespitosa

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Good luck with your project!

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of these grasses:

Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Andropogon virginicus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

Deschampsia cespitosa

Elymus canadensis

Koeleria macrantha

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans




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