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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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Tuesday - March 20, 2012

From: Fairfax, VA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Best way to plant sedges on a slope in Fairfax, VA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Best way to plant sedges on a slope. WE are in the LONG process of trying to convert our backyard to a native wildlife friendly habitat. The slope is about 30 degress and it's a large space 1/2 acre?? When we moved in it was covered with english ivy which was killing all the trees. WE have removed all of the ivy and now have zillions of violets-grr, but we want to plant PA sedge. We have also added many native wildflowers and shrubs- including va bluebells, fringed bleeding hearts (the native ones), sweetspire, spicebush, viburnums, snowberry, nine bark, cardinal flower, wood aster, columbine, highbush bluebery, americanbeauty berry, service berry, va creeper, sea oats and winterberry, oh and jacobs ladder and cinnamon ferns- all of those flowers and shrubs are thriving except the cinnamon fern and the jacobs ladder. We tried some other sedges but they didn't work so we have finally found some PA sedge. We have about 25 small bare root plants to plant. The question we have is what is the best way to distribute them to help control the erosion, naturalize the space, and still be able to enjoy the lovely wildflowers we have growing? Across the hill? randomly? in rows? aisles? Also, will it spread on it's own, or will we need to buy more next year? We just don't know where to begin. thanks so much!

ANSWER:

You have an quite ambitious project underway, and we appreciate your use of native plants.

Pennsylvania sedge Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) is a low, clumped, grass-like perennial, 6-12 in. high. It is a fine ground cover, spreading relentlessly by rhizomes.

As to planting, I think I would place them in a random pattern across the hill, tucking them between your other plants, to give a more natural look.

They are perennial, and they spread readily. Dividing the mature plants will give you new plants, and you shouldn't need to buy any more Pennsylvania sedge.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

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