I have an area on my property in New Hampshire that borders my lawn. It's mostly pretty heavy shade from maples. It also gets pretty moist at times throughout the year. Right now especially on the edge a variety of weeds that grow pretty tall sprout up every year but my plan is to keep those down by brush hogging them 2-3 times a year to keep the height down. Any suggestions of a variety of grass or other ground cover the would grow well in these conditions?
Sounds like a nice woods. The problem I think is that grasses don't like shade (with one exception, noted below), and there aren't a lot of natives that work well as weed-reducing groundcovers except, perhaps, some of the more rampant ferns such as:
- Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Ostrich Ferns will run underground and can become an effective groundcover over a few years.
Other non-rampant native ferns that might work because they're tall and will form large clumps over many years are:
- Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)
- Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)
- Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis)
- Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichroides.
The issues with those are slow in-fill and relatively high cost because you can only buy plants, not seed (Ostrich Fern will be the least expensive). Except for Christmas Fern, they top out at 3+ feet high.
If you do have some drier areas, then you could look at Robin's Plantain/Robin-plantain (Erigeron pulchellus, which is an odd yet effective groundcover in preventing weed seeds from sprouting (it works best if the land is clear when it's planted). It forms rosettes that spread just below the ground's surface, and blooms in May (zone 5). One plant will cover about 9 sq ft in 5 years, so not the fastest groundcover.
Other natives that could (slowly) work are:
There are many faster non-native groundcovers, but I personally don't like them in our native woods, so won't recommend any except Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonachloa macra), because you mentioned a grassy view and this grass isn't too nasty in the wild. One plant will form a nice 3 ft by 2 ft drift in a few years, and will slowly spread from there. I would get the green variety (the actual species) rather than the gold and gold variegated ones solely because it would blend better into the landscape, IMO. The major drawback with this option is cost - the plants are not inexpensive.
You may find this site (Adirondacks Forever Wild) useful in picking plants (it's referenced above as well).