Carex Lawn

Carex LawnMadison Square Park has a new green lawn, thanks to our green team who planted 2,230 small Carex plants on Dogwood Lawn with the help of volunteers. Carex appalachia is a native perennial plant that slowly spreads forming dense colonies; the sedge has a very fine texture, mimicking other traditional lawn species.

Dogwood Lawn was chosen as a test site for this project since the area is subject to shade from the existing tree canopy. Traditional lawns do not tolerate shade and often die out in the heat of the summer when stressed by competing water needs from more mature trees. Carex lawns do not tolerate traffic well, however it only requires minimal maintenance as it only needs to be mowed twice a year. In addition, it is sustainable since it does not require fertilizer, lime, or supplemental irrigation once it’s established. By replacing traditional lawn species with native grasses that have evolved to thrive in our climate and shade, we reduce our dependence on outside resources and help create habitat and food for native wildlife.


Carex LawnCarex flowers are inconspicuous but they provide nectar to native insects and seed to native birds. The plants host skipper and satyr caterpillars, a favorite summer food for many birds. 

Sedge lawns are usually planted from small plant plugs as the seeds of many sedges are short lived and have low germination rates. These lawns do have seasonal color variation—they never fully turn brown but they do take on a copper tinge when the temperature drops.

Madison Square Park Conservancy is committed to environmental stewardship. This dense and durable ground cover will provide added benefits of soil stabilization helping to decrease soil and rainwater runoff that occurs during heavy rains. It can be used in other lawn areas under the tree canopy where traditional grass species do not grow. Stay tuned for greater and greener lawns in 2020!