Seeding sedges

These two pending items have kept me out of the yard and away from therapy (gardening = therapy): (1) The teardown and rebuilding of our back porch and (2) the basement wall insulation.

Cathy and I were getting very restless and decided that we need a fix. On the search for a sliver of landscape that could handle our bursting green thumbs, I honed in on the parkway in front of the house and vacant lot.

We don’t think highly of turf grass, unless it has sound raison d’être.

The turf grass in the parkway is a one dimensional space filler – a patch to prevent a mudflat between the sidewalk and curb. Not a sound raison d’être in our book.

That parkway is screaming “stormwater infiltration and rain garden!” But to get that growing idea into the ground, I need a whole lot of native sedges … one sedge per square foot.

I collected plenty of seeds this past summer from the sedges in the front yard. I also have saved trays and pots over the years so that we can grow our own plants. I busted out the tape measure and added up the square footage of the parkway to calculate that I need 580 plants. Then I started seeding sedges.


32 pots per tray = 32 square feet worth of sedges. That is, if every pot produces a sedge.

To assure a good germination rate, I filled the pots with potting soil and topped them off with a coarse sand layer. I sprinkled 10 to 20 sedge seeds into each pot and covered them with a mulch layer of stone ships.


This is half science and half anecdotal evidence. The sedge seeds like to have close contact to the growing medium to draw moisture (without drowning), yet maintain good access to oxygen. The layer of sand does just that.

The stone chip mulch layer is a capillary break that prevents the sand and potting soil from drying out too quickly. It also creates a microclimate with a high relative humidity that protects the germinating seedling from desiccation.

The trays will sit outside all winter long. That provides ample time for the seeds to slowly imbibe the needed moisture. Plus, the frigid winter temperatures take care of the cold stratification that should break the seed’s dormancy.

Will it work? It should, based on past experience. But late spring will tell us for sure.

Related posts:

Garden reflection and scheduling realities

The back porch project

Following the control layers

From wish list to reality

Front yard clean up


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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