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Carex pansa (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic(
Carex pansa (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic(

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Zones 7-9, 11-24
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Regular Water

Carex pansa

California Meadow Sedge


Large group of grasslike, clumping plants found worldwide and grown for foliage effect in borders, rock gardens, containers, and water gardens (flowers are generally insignificant); some are used as lawn substitutes, as large-scale groundcovers, or for erosion control. Long, narrow evergreen leaves are often striped or oddly colored. Specialists offer many varieties. Although characteristically found in damp soils, many sedges will grow under relatively dry conditions in cultivation. Many are short-lived in gardens so are used as annuals.

Carex pansa

California native. Forms a 6–8-in.-high mat of narrow, dark green leaves that are moderately tolerant of foot traffic; excellent between pavers and steppingstones. Used as a lawn alternative or in meadows. Needs less care than traditional lawn grasses, but occasional shearing and fertilization will keep it looking its best. Weed control is important during establishment, but it won’t tolerate herbicides typically used on lawns. Needs only moderate water once established; sensitive to overwatering. C. praegracilis (Western meadow sedge) and C. subfusca (rusty sedge) are closely related to C. pansa and can be used similarly, though they are more variable.

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