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Mr. Smarty Plants - Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade

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Friday - October 25, 2013

From: Iowa City, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!

ANSWER:

If you are wanting a turf-like lawn in the shade, it is pretty much going to have to be sedges.  Here are three possibilities:

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex plantaginea (Plantainleaf sedge)

You can read an article from Brooklyn Botanic Garden by John Greenlee, Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape, that gives you more information about sedges for turf. 

Here are a few grasses that are native to Iowa and will grow in the shade or part shade.  They are not turf grasses, however, but they are attractive:

Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Melica nitens (Three-flower melic)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill)

If you have some sunny areas that will grow turf grass and some areas that are shady, you might consider putting ferns or groundcover herbaceous plants in the shade areas.

Here are some ferns that could do well in a shady area in Iowa:

Adiantum pedatum (Northern maidenhair)

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)

Dryopteris cristata (Crested woodfern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

The following are herbaceous groundcovers that grow well in the shade.

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Tiarella cordifolia (Heartleaf foamflower)

Waldsteinia fragarioides (Appalachian barren strawberry)

Viola adunca (Hooked-spur violet)

Viola canadensis (Canadian white violet)

Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) is a vine that will happily grow along the ground as a groundcover.

 

 

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