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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
March 21, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can ge...
view the full question and answer

removing paper mulberry shoots from lawn
August 09, 2011 - Dear Mr./Ms. Smartypants, I recently moved into an Austin home with the backyard taken over by paper mulberries. There were originally 2-3 large bush/trees, but now that I've removed them I realiz...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
view the full question and answer

Poor drainage in clay soils in Langhorne PA
September 15, 2009 - Our backyard has very poor drainage, to the point of up to 3 inches of rain can sit until it is evaporated. Talking to neighbors, they informed us that there use to be a terrain that ran through our ...
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