Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 23, 2010

From: Hancock, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Turf grasses and alternatives for NH
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in Hancock, NH, just north of Peterborough. We just bought a relatively new house that pretty-much has no lawn and minimal landscaping. Can you (or anyone) suggest native lawn grass alternative ideas that would work well, both aesthetically as well as providing some durability and softness for playing children. I have heard of mosses and such, as well as taller grasses. Thank you for any thoughts or suggestions deemed pertinent.

ANSWER:

You don't mention anything about the conditions in which the lawn needs to grow.  New construction generally means a lot that has been stripped of topsoil, there is little shade and what soil there is is compacted due to construction euqipment.  That means that most of the rain or irrigation water runs off instead of infiltrating the soil.  Needless to say, that is a very tough environment for any plant to live in.  In my experience, it takes about five years for a lawn to overcome these conditions and start to fill in.

If this pretty much describes your situation, you should be concentrating your efforts on improving your soil.  Aerate the soil and topdress with compost and natural fertilizer every fall and overseed while the soil is still warm.

There is a company in PA that specializes in Moss lawns but it is unlikely that your conditions are suitable, especially if you have children playing.  Check out Ecolawn, a mix of native grasses developed by one of our assosciates in Canada.  It could be just what you are looking for.  If they cannot ship to you, they will advise you where to obtain the seed in the US.  They will also be able to advise you whether to seed now or wait until spring.

 

 

More Soils Questions

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Converting a Texas backyard to grow Xerophytic native plants
January 09, 2015 - I am planning the conversion of our backyard, about 4000 sq ft of largely St Augustine, into a grassless landscape of hardscaping and native plants. Iíve been an avid gardener of rock garden plants i...
view the full question and answer

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.