Sedge (Cyperaceae) is commonly confused with grass (Gramineae), although they both belong to different families. Lumped in with ornamental grasses, sedge has grass-like appearances and is often used in natural landscaping. There are many distinct differences between sedge and grass that identifying sedge is easy when you know what to look for.
Learning to identify sedge from grass is fairly easy. Inspecting the stem will tell you whether the plant is a sedge or a grass. Unlike grass stems that are hollow inside, sedge stems are triangular and solid inside. Also, sedge has no nodes or joints along its stem like grass does. While different types of grasses can be annuals or perennials, sedges are mostly perennials and will live for two or more years.
Like grass, sedge can be grown to control erosion and it is planted at sites where the ground has been disturbed from mining. It is also used in meadow restoration projects. Many home gardeners grow sedge as an ornamental grass for both its beauty and to provide wildlife with food.
Sedges are fairly versatile and adaptable, which is what makes a favorite plant for gardeners. Planted in the spring so that it can become established before the winter months, most sedge prefers to grow in moist or wet soil. Unlike grass, sedge does not need full sun to grow healthily.
Sedges in Gardens
Sedge needs very little care and maintenance. It can be grown in poor soils where other plants are unable to grow. Gardeners plant sedge to provide accents and to create grass barriers along walls or pathways. In the fall, sedge dries up like other ornamental grasses and can add character to the landscape. The sedge is usually cut down after it has dried to prevent a fire hazard, although some gardeners harvest the dried sedge to use for indoor decorating the same way as some people decorate with dried grasses.