Photo by Tom MacCubbin
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.s
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.