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Try Oak Sedge Instead of Lawn in the Shade

Virtues: Oak sedge is a rugged grass native to the East Coast. Its short stature, shade tolerance and ability to gently spread lend it to many applications in the garden, from ground cover to lawn substitute to accent or companion plant, container plant or edger.

oak sedge

Common name: Pennsylvania sedge, oak sedge

Botanical name:Carex pensylvanica

Exposure: Part to full shade

Season: Spring through fall, for foliage

Foliage: Oak sedge has a fine grassy texture and medium green color.

Habit: This is a grassy plant that grows to 8 to 10 inches tall with a fountain-like shape. It spreads by stolons (underground stems) and seed to fill in as much area as you’ll allow it to. However it is not overly aggressive and it is easy to keep in check.

Origins: Dry woods of roughly the eastern half of North America, to the Upper South.

How to grow oak sedge: This sedge can be started from seed, or you can purchase plugs or larger containers of it for transplanting into the garden. Site in partial or full shade, in soil that runs dry to average moisture, with good drainage. Because it grows slowly and tops out at 8 to 10 inches, mowing may not be necessary, or may be done just once or twice in a growing season, depending on the site’s usage. Be sure to cut old growth down to the ground in early spring to make way for fresh foliage. USDA Zones 3–8.

Image by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0