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Mr. Smarty Plants - drought-resistant turf grasses for New York City

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Thursday - June 16, 2011

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: drought-resistant turf grasses for New York City
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi - I work at the Smithsonian in New York City and we have a very large lawn that is frequently used in the summer for programming. It gets very beat up. I read an article in teh New York Times about your research on drought-resistant native grass research - can you recommend a blend for the Northeast that I could suggest our gardener try? I'm also our sustainability manager, so I'd love to suggest something that would not only solve a big problem for us but also be kind to the environment. Many thanks!

ANSWER:

Drought-testing mixtures of native grasses is a time-consuming process, and even the one project dealing with grasses of the Southwest is not yet completed at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center.  Mr. Smarty Plants is unaware of a similar project for the New York City area.  Some of the fescues have been popular there since they require relatively little watering.  I find that some recent lawns used a mix of tall fescue and Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass). Advice on choosing a turf grass for New York can be found at this web site.  In theory some of the newer cold-tolerant strains of bermuda grass or Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) might survive, but I have not seen evidence of that.

If your lawns are shady in places you might consider a sedge.  The species most suited for your area is Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is also native to New York, but I have not seen examples of its use in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

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