Growing lawn grass can sometimes be a fruitless task despite all your efforts. But does that mean you should have bare soil around your property?
Thankfully, there are ground covers used as ideal alternatives to grass. When planted correctly, a ground cover can leave your yard with a green carpet-like mat. If you’re looking for a ground cover to grow in your yard, Dichondra can be a worthy choice.
As an evergreen plant, dichondra lawn can add aesthetic appeal to your landscape, especially in areas where lawn grass won’t grow. However, it’s wise to consider dichondra lawn pros and cons before planting it. Read on to decide if you should grow this ground cover.
What Is Dichondra?
Dichondra (lawn-leaf) is a perennial, herbaceous plant used as ground cover in landscaping. It belongs to the morning glory family and is best known for its evergreen kidney-shaped leaves.
Most landscapers prefer this plant due to its fast-growing and creeping characteristics. Despite the season, the Dichondra plant will spread and cover your yard with beautiful, luscious green leaves. When this plant enters the blooming stage, it produces white or greenish-white flowers.
Dichondra thrives in warm and cool temperate regions. It can grow in full sun and survive frost in winter. As an all-season plant, it will provide a well-manicured ground cover you can rely on all year round.
This plant is available in numerous varieties for your yard as ground cover. The most common dichondra varieties include the following:
- Western Dichondra
- Silver ponysfoot
- Asian Kidney weed
- Carolina ponysfoot
- Oakwood ponysfoot
Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons
Below are the benefits and downsides of dichondra ground cover:
Dichondra Lawn Pros
Here’s why you should grow Dichondra on your lawn.
Dichondra is a low-maintenance ground cover ideal for homeowners with busy schedules. Once established, this plant requires minimal care and maintenance to keep it in good condition.
Since it’s a ground-hugging plant, dichondra lawn doesn’t grow out of hand. It rarely grows beyond two inches tall, so you don’t have to mow it regularly like turfgrass. Typically, you’ll need to mow this plant once every two weeks. You can also leave your Dichondra unmowed for years without compromising its beauty.
Unlike lawn grass, you don’t need to water your Dichondra lawn frequently. This plant requires deep, infrequent watering, especially when its leaf blades turn yellow in extreme heat conditions.
It’s Resistant to Heat and Cold
Dichondra can beat the summer heat and maintain its lush green hue unless in extreme droughts. It’s, therefore, an excellent alternative to turfgrass in dry regions. However, keeping it well-maintained in dry seasons is necessary to prevent leaves from drying up.
Besides tolerating droughts, the dichondra plant will thrive in winter. When other plants in your yard go dormant, this plant will remain evergreen despite the low winter temperatures. It’s known to tolerate low temperatures down to 20°F.
Perfect for Landscaping
Dichondra grows and spreads faster, reaching a maximum height of two inches. Its evergreen, broad leaves form a beautiful carpet-like mat that covers the ground. This plant produces white or greenish-white flowers, adding more aesthetic appeal to your yard.
Thanks to its luscious green leaves and beautiful flowers, Dichondra is a perfect choice for landscaping. You can grow it along the fence, between the rocks on your sidewalks, ornamental areas, and orchards.
Growing Dichondra alongside other herbaceous plants will spruce up your landscape throughout the year.
It Doesn’t Suffocate Other Plants
Dichondra is safe to grow alongside your lawn grass and other herbaceous plants. Despite being a fast-growing creeping plant, Dichondra doesn’t suffocate or compete with other plants. You can grow it in bald spots where grass fails or areas difficult to mow.
It Can Grow Where Grass Doesn’t
Do you have spots in your lawn where the turfgrass won’t grow? Perhaps you have rockeries that you want to grow plants to serve as ground covers. If so, the dichondra plant will flourish in those areas and provide an excellent cover.
The plant can thrive on low-fertilized and poorly drained soils where your lawn grass struggles to grow. Moreover, you don’t need to fertilize it regularly to make the plant grow to its full potential. However, occasional fertilizing makes it more vibrant despite climate changes.
Controls Soil Erosion
If soil erosion is a big problem in your yard, a dichondra ground cover can be a lasting solution. You can plant it in your garden where wind or surface runoff carries away loose soil. This ground-hugging plant will spread over bare ground to inhibit soil erosion.
Dichondra Lawn Cons
Here are some drawbacks of Dichondra when used as a ground cover.
Unable to Withstand Heavy Foot Traffic
Despite being an evergreen plant, Dichondra doesn’t do well on lawns that receive heavy foot activity. Its soft, delicate leaves wear quickly when your kids or pets frequent the area. And unlike grass, the dichondra plant may not recover from such destruction. This plant is not your perfect lawn substitute if you can’t keep your kids or pets off your lawn.
It Doesn’t Do Well in Shaded Areas
Dichondra grows and reaches its full potential in full sun. The plant grows dense leaves and stems when it accesses at least six hours of daily sunlight.
However, dichondra struggles to remain vibrant in partially shaded areas. If your yard has a lot of trees, you’ll need to put in extra effort to maintain it. But even with all care and maintenance, your plant will have smaller leaves with thin stems.
Vulnerable to Pests and Diseases
When well maintained, Dichondra can grow healthy throughout the seasons. However, it’s susceptible to pest infestation that can damage the leaves and weaken the entire plant. You’ll want to regularly check for cutworms, flea beetles, and caterpillars that like to feed on the plant. If you spot any of these pests on your plant, use pesticides to prevent a severe infestation.
Moreover, dichondra lawn is prone to diseases like southern blight, botrytis, leaf spot, and rust. Use fungicides to treat southern blight, botrytis, and rust. You can cure the leaf spot by watering the plant less frequently.
Some Homeowners Consider Dichondra a Weed
While some homeowners grow Dichondra as a substitute for lawn grass, many others view it as a weed. It’s worth noting that this plant doesn’t suffocate lawns and other herbaceous plants.
However, the non-native dichondra species is highly invasive and can overrun lawns. Most people consider it a nuisance due to its fast-growing and creeping characteristics.
How To Grow Dichondra Lawn
The above dichondra lawn pros and cons help you understand what kind of ground cover it is. If it sounds like an excellent alternative to your turfgrass, you can grow it using these steps:
- Prepare your lawn to ensure it’s weed-free with adequately drained soil. Your planting spot should also receive plenty of sunlight.
- Scatter the seeds or press them lightly into the soil.
- Water lightly. Dichondra seeds require slightly moist soil to germinate. You’ll need to water the seeds more often in sunnier areas until they sprout.
Does Your Lawn Need this Ground Cover?
Dichondra lawn has its benefits and drawbacks when used as a ground cover. As a fast-growing, evergreen plant, you can grow it to boost your lawn’s aesthetic appeal. The plant will form a beautiful carpet-like mat with luscious green leaves and greenish-white flowers.
The dichondra plant has low maintenance needs and doesn’t suffocate your grass when well established. It’s a great ground cover to grow in areas where other plants struggle and will help control soil erosion. However, understand all the dichondra pros and cons before introducing it on your lawn.
Hello! My name is Chris, and I am the founder of Yard Floor. When I was a toddler, my family had a lush green lawn. I was at the center of caring for and maintaining this lawn and even proceeded to take an associate’s Degree in landscaping. I am here to share my years of experience with you – be it repairing your mower/tractor or caring for your lawn.