smooth cordgrass care

by studiojane

from this pdf

Smooth cordgrass is critically sensitive to reduced soil sulfides, a condition common to anaerobic and brackish marsh soils. Smooth cordgrass should not be planted outside of the tidal zone. Smooth cordgrass will tolerate fluctuating water levels. Optimum water depths for establishing plants are 1” to 18”. Plantings in deeper water have been successful, however plants are slow to anchor and vegetative cover is sparse.

Plant establishment and productivity appear to be superior on heavier mineral soils such as mucky clays, silty clays, silty clay loams, and fine sands. Soils with very high levels of organic matter pose structural problems

Trade-gallon containers have a higher per unit cost compared to smaller containers or bare-root plugs, but provide the most reliable means of establishment. Trade-gallon plants have proven to be a highly successful transplant, especially along shorelines and other areas of high wave energy.

A trade-gallon will have 5 to 12 aerial stems that are 18” to 24” in height. Smooth cordgrass produces new tillers (stems) and spreads almost entirely from rhizomes. Consequently, a well-developed root massis critical to the survival and productivity of transplants.

smooth cordgrass can be planted between April 1 to September 30.


Shoreline plantings are typically planted as a single row parallel to the shoreline. Transplants should be planted at the mid-point between the high and low tide elevations. Plant spacing within the row will vary according to the size of the transplant materials being used and the rate at which full coverage is desired. Trade-gallons generally are planted on 5’ to 8’ centers and plugs generally on 2’ to 3’ centers. Under applicable site conditions, smooth cordgrass will spread laterally filling spaces between plants and will grow up to its highest elevation and down to its lowest elevation. It is not uncommon for smooth cordgrass to produce 8’ to 10’ of lateral spread in one growing season.

Planting sites where high wave energy is a problem may require the addition of a plant anchor. A plant anchor consists of 1⁄4” mild steel re-bar bent into a crosier hook (candy-cane shape) and pushed down into the soil so that hook lays across the root-ball, pinning it to the ground. Anchors are generally about 30” in overall length and will add to the cost of the planting. However, anchors are generally necessary at unusually problematic sites to prevent plants from washing out.