Sedges encompass many plant genera, but their largest genus is Carex. All sedges are known for being hardy plants that have an appearance similar to that of grasses. Perennial plants, sedges can grow up to 4 feet high and have spiky leaves that grow in clusters. Sedges tolerate a variety of environments. Although they are commonly considered weeds, they can be cultivated for lawns and other landscaping.
About the Family
Sedges belong to the family Cyperaceae and often feature triangle-shaped stems. Their flowers are sheathed in a single scale that is called a perigynia. Depending on their type, sedges reproduce through seeds and rhizomes; rhizomes are underground stems that send out side shoots, producing new plants. The foliage produced by sedges varies from 1 to 2 inches to almost 4 feet in height. In general, sedges tend to produce clumps of grasslike foliage.
Even though different sedge species have different growing requirements, sedges are generally known for tolerating poor growing conditions, including wet environments and nutritionally poor soil. Highly adaptable, sedges can be warm-weather or cool-weather types. The type to choose depends on the role sedge will play in your landscape design. For example, whether you will grow it as a ground cover vs. in small clumps and paired with other plants to form a larger grouping.
As Ground Cover
Using a native sedge as a ground cover is one way you can grow a native-plant lawn, which can help reduce the amount of irrigation needed to maintain a cool, green expanse near your home. Catlin sedge (Carex texensis) is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. In addition to being drought-tolerant, it is evergreen and can grow in a location exposed to full sun, although it does best in partial to full shade. Clustered field sedge (Carex praegracilis) is one of the most widespread sedges in the United States and is hardy in USDA zones 6 through 10. It tolerates dry soil and boggy soil, and thrives in full sun.
Sedge Lawn Care
If you choose a sedge that fits your location's growing conditions, then your sedge lawn will require minimal maintenance. You can leave the sedge lawn not mowed for a wild and informal landscape. If, however, you decide to mow it, doing so will be necessary only a few times each year, with one of those times ideally after winter to cut off dead plant matter.