En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 18, 2013

From: Sparta, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grass for a Miniature Garden
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Please let me know what kind of grass is nice and short and tight for a miniature garden in a wooden box. I want to grow this grass in the box and I also want to know if I need to drill holes in the bottom of the wooden box for drainage. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Many people who create bonsai, penjing (Chinese miniature landscapes) or garden railroads that require plants to be of a scale that looks appropriate use moss or dwarf Carex sp. (miniature sedges) to simulate grass-like groundcovers. There aren't any grasses that will stay short and dense enough to be in scale for most projects.

There are some native sedges that look like grass such as Carex pensylvania, but look at the heights to make sure they are in scale. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's website has 217 entries for native Carex (sedges), 27 that are under 1 ft. To view these, visit the Plant Database, enter Carex and select the 0-1 ft height category. You might like to look at the Juncus and Sagina (pearlworts) as well. Juncus ambiguus is under 1 ft in height and has a grasslike appearance.  

Some non-natives that have been used to simulate grass are Scleranthus uniflorus, Irish or scotch moss (Sagina subulata), or Carex berggrenii.

To answer your drainage question, yes you need to drill holes for drainage. Your plants will grow much better with adequate soil drainage. For some tips on planting a miniature garden visit The Mini Garden Guru's website. And if you are going to use any mosses, take a look at George Schenk's book on moss gardening.

 

From the Image Gallery


Poverty rush
Juncus tenuis

Cherokee sedge
Carex cherokeensis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
August 02, 2013 - I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foo...
view the full question and answer

Problems for non-native St. Augustine grass from Little Rock AR
July 18, 2012 - We sodded St. Augustine grass four weeks ago. For the first three weeks we had no rain and temperatures over 100 degrees. We have watered 20 minutes twice a day since installation. There are brown pat...
view the full question and answer

Plant for deep shade in Pennsylvania
April 09, 2013 - Hi! I am landscaping our house and trying to use only plants that provide seasonal benefit to bees, butterflies, birds etc. not the deer though. My question is that I have a fairly steep slope of abou...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control from Lakeland FL
November 03, 2012 - What native Ground cover is best for erosion control on slope of lake-front? Prefer not too invasive for this northern facing area behind a seawall and near large Oak tree.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for roadside in Gallatin TN
February 19, 2012 - What native plant would you suggest that we try to establish on 100 feet of road frontage which gets full afternoon sun? The soil is mostly clay, and it's on a rather sleep hill about 10 feet high. ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center