Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Wednesday - September 11, 2013

From: Rowley, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native, low maintenance lawn for Rowley MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am in Northeastern (coastal) Massachusetts and I am looking to replace my (currently high maintenance, water intensive, invasive species) lawn with a native, low maintenance species (or mix). Many of the "native" seeds and mixes available use species like Buffalograss that are no more native to my area than a European or Asian import. Do you have any suggestions for a native lawn for my area?

ANSWER:

In our queue of questions for Mr. Smarty Plants today we have two questions from two entirely different parts of the country, both asking for lawn selection help. To help you know what page we are on in terms of lawn grasses, please read this recent article from the New York Times "Lose the Lawn". Here also is a list of previous Mr. Smarty Plants questions on groundcovers from Massachusetts:

Brockton, MA

Brookfield, MA

Pembroke, MA

Harvard, MA

Now that we have made our introductory statements, here is what we can do to try to help you find appropriate plants for your particular situation. You are quite right that Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is not native to Massachusetts. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it grows natively (green states) up the center of North America into Canada. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it grows naturally; in your case, Essex County, MA in the northeasternn corner of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, we will search our Native Plant Database to see what we can find for you. We are at something of a disadvantage because, unlike the other question from Austin, you gave us no indication of whether you have sun or shade where you want to garden, so our database search will have to be more general in nature. Please read the other Mr. Smarty Plants question we answered on this same subjtect to keep us from saying the same things over again. You have to understand we are really not looking for lawns but for substitute groundcovers that will serve your purpose. After following the above link to our database, we will scroll down to Combination Search and make our first search on Massachusetts, "grass or grass-like for Habit, "moist" for soil moisture and 0' to 1' for height. We will run the same search for "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants" for Habit. Once you know how to use our database, you can go back in and do your own search, specifying other habits like shrubs, a more correct soil moisture and Light Requirements. Follow each plant link on our suggested list to our webpage on that plant for growing conditions, whether it is evergreen or deciduous, etc.

Grasses and grass-like plants for Rowley MA: This was pretty disappointing; there were a few sedges and we had no pictures of any of them in our Image Gallery. You might find the link at the bottom of the webpage on each plant to Google and see if you can get more information or pictures.

Carex echinata (Star sedge)

Carex interior (Inland sedge)

Carex leptalea (Bristlystalked sedge)

Carex pedunculata (Longstalk sedge)

Cyperus esculentus (Yellow nutsedge)

Herbaceous blooming plants:

Anemone quinquefolia (Wood anemone)

Argentina anserina (Silverweed cinquefoil)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Clintonia borealis (Bluebead)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)

Coptis trifolia (Threeleaf goldthread)

 

From the Image Gallery


Silverweed cinquefoil
Argentina anserina

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Threeleaf goldthread
Coptis trifolia

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Non-allergenic landscape in Fairfield, CT
April 18, 2009 - I live in Fairfield, CT and need to have a non-allergenic landscape. Can you please list plants, ground covers, and trees/shrubs that would be beautiful, and help in this critical situation? The lan...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping on South Padre Island
June 07, 2008 - I'm in charge of landscaping at my beachfront condo in South Padre Island and find the wind, salt air, and heat challenging for growing almost anything. We would like to incorporate native plants, b...
view the full question and answer

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Control methods for Cenchrus spinifex, Coastal sandbur
September 22, 2006 - I have some of the nicest, thickest, greenest grassburs in the county of Erath. What is the best and quickest way to get rid of them? I have heard of a product called cornmeal gluten. Any info appreci...
view the full question and answer

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
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.