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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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Tuesday - July 25, 2006

From: Sparkill, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native fescues and sedges for turf in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, Came across your contact info while googling and hoped you could help answer a question or direct me to another resource that can. I am looking to redo my entire landscaping with native NY plants. I have been able to find some good resources for wildflowers and plants/trees. I am having a hard time finding any information about native grasses though. I am reducing the amount of 'grass/turf' on my property substantially, but do have one or two areas that I need to have a turf type grass on, for kids to play, etc., and small front yard area. I would like to know what my best bet is, if there are any grasse native to the area that would form a turf type lawn for these areas. I have seen some mention of gramma and little bluestem, etc., but they seem to have their drawbacks as well as benefits. I live in southern Rockland county, and my soil is very sandy, as the development was actually previously a commercial type sandpit years ago. Thank you for any recommendations or further resources you can recommend.

ANSWER:

There are a couple of possibilities that come to mind. One is the native fescues (Festuca spp.) that are low maintenance, require little mowing, and thrive in poor soils. Red fescue (Festuca rubra) is native to New York. There are other Festuca spp. native to New York that might also be suitable.

Another possibility is a sedge (Carex spp.) lawn. Of the five sedges named in the article, "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape", two are native to New York—Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) and Texas (or Catlin) sedge (Carex texensis). Besides those named in the article, there are many other Carex spp. native to New York that also might be suitable.

 

 

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