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
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

What is composted mulch from Springfield IL
July 01, 2010 - I love the look of hard wood mulch. It is my understanding that this wood mulch that is so readily available in bulk and bags is not "composted mulch". I have been told that this type of mulch pull...
view the full question and answer

Plants adding calcium to soil
June 08, 2006 - Hi, I am looking for a resource to help determine the functions of native plants. For instance, nitrogen fixing can be found in Indigo, Lead plant, lupines. Are there other plants that add back cal...
view the full question and answer

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Need help growing plants in red dirt in Mount Pleasant, NC.
September 17, 2011 - I live in N.C. and I have had the hardest time getting plants to grow;I have red dirt at my house. Can you suggest a few colorful plants that would do real well in red dirt? Thank You So Very Much!!!!...
view the full question and answer

Area needing soil amendment in San Diego
December 02, 2009 - I have a dirt area in the corner where my fence comes together. The dirt is clay-like and during the winter the area gets very little, if any, sun and during the summer it gets 4-6 hours of sun. Wha...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center