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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native turf grass for Arlington, VA.
September 10, 2015 - Hi, could you please provide me with a recommendation for a native turf grass to plant in a large commercial area in Arlington, Virginia. Currently Kentucky 31 is being used, but we would like to iden...
view the full question and answer

Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC
August 19, 2012 - Please recommend plants to help with soil erosion on a slope. The soil is red clay and area gets full sun. The slope is approximately 12' x 12'. I live in Fairview, NC
view the full question and answer

Looking for source of Carex texensis in Beaumont, TX
May 11, 2012 - Looking for Carex texensis, the only place I find it is in Tennessee or North Carolina. Should I buy it online from those places to put in Beaumont, TX?
view the full question and answer

Dividing Gulf muhly in Leander TX
October 16, 2010 - I purchased a 1-gallon pot of Gulf Muhly (muhlenbergia capillaris) and am wondering if I can divide the clump in order to make my purchase go further. And, regarding that method of propagation, could...
view the full question and answer

Controlling non-native Pennisetum frutescens (Naked fountain grass)
December 07, 2014 - Three years ago I bought a pennisetum frutescans grass from a reputable online nursery. It gets no supplemental water, but it is taking over my yard. It is almost 7 feet wide now. Can you tell me how ...
view the full question and answer

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