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Thursday - April 02, 2015

From: Lake of The Woods, VA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Laws, Deer Resistant, Grasses or Grass-like, Wildflowers
Title: Critter-Proof Native Plants for Virginia Lawn
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We live in a gated community that was part of the Wilderness Battlefield during the Civil War. Our home is on a narrow lot, fully treed except for a postage stamp-sized lawn at lake side. We have deer, Canada geese and voles to contend with. We would like to replace the "lawn" with native plants that would survive the critters, would not block our view, be easy to maintain, and can handle some foot traffic.

ANSWER:

Let’s start with a list of native plants for your area and height requirements. Take a look at the Native Plant Database on the www.wildflower.org website and put in the following search criteria: State = Virginia, habit = grass & grass-like, duration = perennial, light requirement = full sun, soil moisture = moist. This search will reveal 5 native plants.  Disregarding the Allium and Cyperus as not appropriate, there are three Carex (Carex interior, Carex echinata and Carex texensis) that you might consider. Of the three Sedges, Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is the most commercially available. If it is too tall, it does take high mowing and a stepping stone path could be constructed between the plants.

Texas Sedge, one of the most common sedges in central Texas, is a good turf substitute for dry to moist shade, colonizing densely by rhizomes. Its fine-textured foliage mixes nicely with other small, shade-loving plants like Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana), Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila phacelioides), and White Avens (Geum canadense) to create a serene woodland garden. It can be mowed at a high setting. A good shade groundcover for naturalizing and landscape restoration, particularly in sandy areas under Post Oaks (Quercus stellata). Likes the moist, sandy soils of Post Oak (Quercus stellata) woodlands. The more moisture it gets, the taller it gets.

Deer Resistant: High

Regarding geese tolerant and vole proof, Nan Hampton answered a related question for Mr. Smarty Plants previously about Plants that Ducks and Geese will not eat. Here's what she wrote ... Yes, ducks and geese do like to eat plants, but they especially like to eat them when they are young and tender plants. They suggest enclosing new plants in wire netting until they have grown sufficiently to withstand heavy feeding.  The article also suggests maintaining enough grass for them to feed on to take away some of the pressure on the other plants.  Mr. Smarty Plants is going to recommend planting a large number of sedges/grasses along with more ornamental plants to distract your duck and goose from eating only the most decorative ones.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

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