Cool season ground cover

Asked April 28, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT

I have a heavily forested side yard which is over grown with weeds. I want to clear it with short duration Roundup, then over-seed with a shade tolerant, cool season ground cover. Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Ramsey County Minnesota

9 Responses

Carex pensylvanica, commonly called Pennsylvania sedge, is a shade-loving perennial sedge that is native to thickets and dry woodland areas.

I have been looking for the availability of Pennsylvania sedge close to my location, Arden Hills, MN and I'm not having much luck. I found some potted Oak or Pennsylvania sedge at Gertners; however, not in the amounts required to cover approximately, 10,000 sq ft. Are there nurseries or garden centers that sell flats containing plugs of this plant in the twin cities area? How feasible is it to plant seeds. It appears from the information you sent that this is not a viable alternative. Any suggestions?


My suggestion would be to contact garden centers near your location to see if they carry what you are looking for, and in the amount that you desire.

I haven't heard of much luck going with seeds.

For a large rain garden project that I designed several years ago, I placed an order early in the year with a local garden center (Brainerd Lakes Area) and they ordered the plugs for me, which were them available for pick up and planting in May of that year.

Hope this helps.

Jackie, I have investigated one supplier, Prairie Restoration, who offered oak sedge in six-packs for $7.50 per pack. I have an area of Approximately 9,000 sq ft to cover. I have seen recommendations of planting on 8 inch centers which the Prairie Restoration said would require ~20,000 plugs for 9,000 sq ft. This would end up costing about $25,000 for the plant material alone. Even assuming a plug per sq ft or 9,000 plugs this would end up costing me $11,250 (9,000/6 = 1,500 packs X $7.50/pack = $11,250) Is there another more cost effective solution (plant wise) for covering my 9,000 sq ft area? Alternatively, do these prices seem reasonable or should I search around for an alternate supplier? Any help you can provide would appreciated.

The six-pack for $7.50 seems reasonable.

For such a large area, seeds would make more sense. How about going with a seed mixture of "Low-Mow Grass" (sometimes called "No Mow Grasses".) If you decide to go with these seed mixes, then check with your local garden centers to see what they have available. Note - a few years ago I used one of these mixes for a is the info of that one seed mix that I used:

Grassland LoGRO
a low-maintenance grass mixture
40% dwarf perennial ryegrass (grows up to 3" - 4")
40% creeping red fescue (grows up to 5")
20% turf type hard fescue (grows up to 5")
Sun / Shade
5# per 1,000 sq. ft.

I used this mixture several years ago (with success) but I'm guessing that there are many more mixes like this available now.

Hope this helps.

Jackie, thanks for getting back to me. I think that I will probably try your grass mixture above. I just wanted to touch base to insure that this grass mixture will grow in a fairly heavily shaded area. Is this likely?
Bruce Lester

According to the manufacturer of the seed mixture that I used (Grasslnad), the mixture was for good for "sun / shade". Please note that I use that mixture in areas that were at the most "part-shade" and not "heavily" shaded areas.

Make sure to describe site conditions to the staff at your local garden center, they should be able to indicate the right seed mixture for your site.

Jackie, I spoke to my lawn guy and he said that the mixture that you suggested would probably be OK; however, he mentioned that it would require some on-going maintenance. I said I understood. He didn't seem to have the time or inclination to help me plant the grass so I'll have to look elsewhere.

I know a guy who does that kind of work. Now I am looking for a design person to generate a landscaping proposal as to what to do with the 10,000 sq ft plot. Does the University have summer intern programs where late year landscape students might provide that type of service, for a fee of course? If you know of such a program I would love to avail myself of it. As I mentioned I have someone who could provide the earth moving and manual labor. I am attaching a couple of pictures of the area.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Bruce Lester