Carex pensylvanica

This is the go-to native for attractive, low-maintenance cover in low-light situations. “Pennsylvania sedge” has rich green foliage. Slender, hair-like blades take on a graceful flowing appearance for a great lawn substitute in dry shade.

It’s a spreader, but isn’t that part of the definition of an effective groundcover? Once established, it requires almost no attention. If it needs neatening up, it can be mowed lightly, at a high setting, once or twice per season. Unlike many sedges, it doesn’t require moist soils and is happiest in full to dappled shade.

Don’t let the specific epithet and common name fool you: Pennsylvania sedge occurs naturally throughout eastern North America. From Quebec to Georgia, it’s an appropriate native choice.

In late spring, C. pensylvanica produces yellow seedheads that mature to buff. A stingy seed producer, it rarely self-sows. It spreads a short distance at a time via underground rhizomes to form continuous colonies.