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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?

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    Are you looking for native or non-native suggestions? Do you want the groundcover to out-compete the weeds at the edge of the woods? Are the woods remnants of native forest or trees like Norway maple?
    – Jurp
    Nov 1, 2021 at 14:04
  • @Jurp I'd have a slight preference for native but either is fine. Looking for a ground cover to stabilize the soil. I would like it to out complete the weeds but whereas I plan to mow it a few times a year I'm hoping that reduces their number over time too. It also doesn't need to be a single mono-culture. Just looking for something low maintenance to keep it more like a grassy forest. Mostly looking to keep a view line open through the woods. The trees are mostly Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Black Cherry, Eastern Cottonwood, and I think there is one small Ash I'm letting grow up. Nov 2, 2021 at 13:30

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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:

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).

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