5 Sedges for Groundcovers (and other uses)

Carex--or sedges--are low growing grass look-alikes in the Cyperaceae family that are workhorses in the landscape. Useful for a range of landscape needs--everything from replacing lawns to replacing mulch as groundcover--carex is considered one of the most useful plants in the garden. Rightly so. Check out the following list of uses and characteristics for sedges in the landscape.

 'Bowles Golden' Sedge is a bright chartreuse that reaches 2' tall, thrives in part sun-shade and loves wet soil, including standing water. Perfect for pond banks, rain gardens, and bogs.

'Bowles Golden' Sedge is a bright chartreuse that reaches 2' tall, thrives in part sun-shade and loves wet soil, including standing water. Perfect for pond banks, rain gardens, and bogs.

  • No-mow lawn 
  • Erosion control
  • Groundcover
  • Rain gardens/Bioretention 
  • Accents
  • Borders
  • Containers
  • Meadow plantings
  • Green Infrastructure
  • Deer resistant
  • Drought or wet tolerant
  • Shade tolerant

Carex's burgeoning popularity comes from its ability to spread, its semi-evergreen to evergreen characteristic and wide range of textures, colors, and adaptability. While you may not need a rain garden or have space for a meadow planting, many residents of Western North Carolina do need groundcovers that will grow in the shade, especially in areas where erosion is a concern. And, if it comes with a pop of color that doesn't require mowing, even better. Here are our top five choices. Please ask staff for help in determining which sedge is best suited for your needs.

For highlights on how B.B.Barns Landscape Services has been using carex in the landscape, read here, here and here

And just FYI: I am buying all the 'Golden Bowles' sedges for my yard since it flooded five times this year with all the rain. The Bowles sedge (pictured above) loves standing water. If you can't beat them...

Carex cherokeensis

Carex cherokeensis

Zone: 6-9

Native: Yes

Evergreen: Semi Foliage Color: Green

Spreads: Clumper

Height: 12'-18," Blade: 1/4"

Light: Sun to part shade

Moisture: Average to wet

Uses: Pond, bog, rain garden, meadows, woodland, groundcover, accents

Tolerates: Shade, wet, deer

Carex pensylvanica

Carex pensylvanica

Zone: 4-8

Native: Yes

Evergreen: Semi Foliage Color: Green

Spreads: Rhizomes

Height: 6"-12," Blade: < 1/2"

Light: Part sun to full shade

Moisture: Dry-Moist

Uses: Groundcover, lawn substitute, no-mow lawn

Tolerates: Shade, drought, deer

Carex 'Ice Dance'

Carex 'morrowii 'Ice Dance'

Zone: 5-8

Native: Japan

Evergreen: Semi Foliage Color: Green and cream variegated

Spreads: Rhizomes

Height: 12," Blade: 1/2"

Light: Part shade to full shade

Moisture: Moist

Uses: Slow spreading groundcover, accent

Tolerates: Shade, deer, erosion

Carex 'Everillo'

Carex oshimensis 'Everillo'

Zone:  6-8

Native: Japan

Evergreen: Semi Foliage Color: Lime Green

Spreads: Rhizomes

Height: 12" Blade: 5/16" 

Light: Part shade

Moisture: Moist to dry

Uses: Groundcover, accent, containers

Tolerates: Deer

carex blue zinger.jpg

Carex flacca 'Blue Zinger'

Zone: 4-8

Native: Europe, N. Africa

Evergreen: Semi Foliage Color: Blue/Green

Spreads: Rhizomes

Height: 8"-10" Blade: 5/16"

Light: Sun to part shade

Moisture: Dry

Uses: Groundcover, accent, containers

Tolerates: Shade, deer

 

Thank you to Hoffman Nurseries for the use of their photographs. 

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach and blog writer.

B.B.Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.