Many gardeners still like a nice green lawn. Not necessarily the whole yard, but just a little vista, front yard portion and a look out the back window. The grass helps prevent pollution, cools the yard, removes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen. It also uses the nutrients we apply for growth. When fed properly the nutrients do not wash away as some would like us to believe.
But with all of this said, there are spots where we struggle with grass. One is out near the curbside and up to the side walks. You notice these areas declining fairly frequently. These are hot spots and hard to water. Chinch bugs seem to get started here first too.
Sometimes there is too much shade for grass. I have a 25 percent rule. If there is more than 25 percent shade you probably need to be growing something else. If trees are involved there is the root competition too. And then there are spots with just poor soil
So what do you plant. One good suggestion is Asiatic jasmine that grows in shade to full sun. It also seems to be able to compete with tree roots and survives periods of dry weather. Asiatic jasmine also comes in several leaf forms from bright green to reddish to variegated. It is a favorite.
Many more ground covers are good grass substitutes. One gaining popularity is the perennial peanut. Gardeners also like the yellow flowers that open during the warmer months. It is drought tolerant but cold sensitive. So during the severe winters you can expect it to brown back. One native ground cover is the sensitive plant also called mimosa. It is drought tolerant and produces a purplish flower during warm weather. Both of these ground covers like sunny locations but can tolerate some filtered sun too.
Another favorite for the sunny sites is the bulbine. You often see this clump forming plant in the medium strips of roadways. They do equally well in the landscape and come with selections that have orange or yellow flowers.
In the shady locations try liriope, mondo grass, bromeliads and peacock ginger. All tolerate tree roots pretty well and can take some dry weather. These are really the best in areas where the grass won?t grow.
Do you have another favorite ground cover? Post a comment to let us know.