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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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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