What the heck is riparian? I’ll get to that.
It’s the dog days of summer and the lawns are turning to a straw-like consistency from lack of water. If you’ve noticed, this is the time that crabgrass, or digitaria, seems to flourish without restraint here in Plainfield City. Why? Because digitaria is a perennial desert grass. This grass is genetically predisposed to do well when other types fall to dust in the oven that is late NJ summer.
By the way, if you are in a shady environment as is the norm in Plainfield City, I recommend a seed mix with the highest percentage of perennial ryegrass, this is very different from digitaria, you can get. Normally the “shade” mixes, honestly full shade is intolerable to all grasses no matter what you’ve seen on TV, available locally at Home Depot etc. have very small percentages of perennial ryegrass in them but the mixes with large amounts of perennial ryegrass can be sourced from Amazon and other online retailers. Perennial ryegrass looks great, can tolerate a drying out period when sprouting, unlike other types, and will self-propagate in somewhat shady conditions.
On the other hand, Digitaria seems to be good for nothing except long hours of weed pulling and sore backs but is this really a fair assessment? Digitaria, it’s true, is an interloper in NJ and not the most aesthetically pleasing of plants but the grass is useful as a food source and for creating riparian areas with little need for fertilizer or water. A riparian zone is that strip of land between a body of water and the land beyond. These zones are essential to soil conservation, are important natural biofilters and also, most importantly, provide habitat for wildlife. The riparian zone provides cover that tree lines and wide open lawns do not. Even if the nearest body of water is miles away, leaving a small portion of your property unattended to sprout “tall weeds” will draw in many types of wildlife that normally would avoid a manicured lawn. Allowing crabgrass and any other “weed” to thrive, even in small patches, goes against every gardening and aesthetic instinct but the “golf course” ideal that’s been around since the 50s and even earlier is only truly a fashion and, with a change in mindset, 1 can find beauty even in a weedy patch. The best part? You don’t have to DO anything!
See more on this “movement” to naturalize the yard at
Get out there and enjoy NJ!