Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons You Can’t Avoid

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Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons - Gardeners Yards

The choices can be overwhelming when selecting the perfect ground cover for your lawn. Dichondra stands out as a unique and increasingly popular choice among the various options of green leaves.

This ornamental plant is one of the most popular grass substitutes for a dense, carpet-like cover. But is it the right one for your garden?

In this blog on the pros and cons of a Dichondra Lawn, we will explore the world of this versatile plant. Dichondra has many benefits, from its ability to thrive in partial shade to its low maintenance requirements and aesthetic appeal.

However, like any plant, it has drawbacks, such as sensitivity to specific diseases, is not frost-hardy, and is only suitable for growing in zones 7-11.

This article aims to provide you with a balanced perspective on Dichondra, exploring its various aspects to help you decide whether it’s a suitable choice or alternative to grass for your green space or to prevent soil erosion.

Get ready to discover everything you need to know about Dichondra, from its basic definition to the specific pros and cons it brings to your lawn.

What is Dichondra?

Dichondra is a small, evergreen perennial ground-hugging plant known for its beautiful, rounded leaves and trailing growth habit. These herbaceous plants are often a perfect choice for thick ground cover in gardens due to their dense and lush foliage, which forms a carpet-like appearance.

This plant is particularly favored in areas where traditional grass struggles to thrive, offering an attractive alternative.

You can also check the varieties of ornamental grass for a beautiful lawn.

Varieties of Dichondra

Among the different varieties of Dichondra, the most common are Dichondra repens and Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls,’ known as popular grass substitutes.

Dichondra repens, often known as kidney weed, is an excellent option for its dense, green foliage and is an ideal choice in lawns and as a ground cover.

On the other hand, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’ has a more cascading habit with silvery leaves, making it a popular choice for growing in hanging baskets and container gardens as a stand-alone plant or as part of a mixed planting scheme.

Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons: At a Glance

Pros

  • Ground Cover: Provides dense and attractive turf
  • Partial Shade Tolerant
  • Ideal for Areas with Heavy Foot Traffic
  • Requires Infrequent Watering; Drought Tolerant
  • Resistant to Flea Beetles and Leaf Spots
  • Shallow Root System Ideal for Well-Drained Soils
  • Low Maintenance Alternative to Grass Lawns

Cons

  • Poorly Suited for Southern Blights
  • May Need Multiple Watering in Hot Weather
  • Susceptible to Kidney Weed in Some Areas
  • Limited Growth Height (Not More Than Two Inches)
Cons of Dichondra Lawns - Gardeners Yards

Pros of Dichondra Lawns

Ground Cover

Dichondra excels as a ground cover due to its dense, mat-forming growth. It creates a lush green carpet that can quickly cover bare spots in the garden, making it aesthetically pleasing and effective in preventing soil erosion.

Partial Shade Tolerant

One of the significant advantages of Dichondra is its tolerance to partial shade. Unlike many grass-on-lawn alternatives, it can have healthy growth even in areas that don’t receive full sunlight, making it versatile for regular maintenance garden layouts.

Excellent Choice for Areas with Heavy Foot Traffic

Dichondra’s robust nature makes it suitable for areas and lawn types with heavy traffic, especially on foot. It can withstand wear and tear better than other ground covers, maintaining its visual appeal even in high-use areas.

Requires Infrequent Watering and is Drought-tolerant

This plant is known for its low water requirements and does not require deep watering. Once established, Dichondra is drought tolerant, without frequent watering, making it an eco-friendly and low-maintenance option for gardeners. And you can forget about any root rot like any common lawn grass.

What happens if you find dead grass in the lawn? Will watering bring the dead grass back?

Resistant to Flea Beetles and Leaf Spots

Dichondra naturally resists common pests like flea beetles and diseases like leaf spots. This resistance helps maintain a healthy lawn without requiring frequent chemical treatments for your beautiful lawn.

Shallow Root System Makes It Ideal for Well-Drained Soils

With its shallow root system, Dichondra is well-suited for well-drained soils. This characteristic makes managing it easier and less invasive than lawn alternatives with deep root systems.

Low-Maintenance Alternative to Grass Lawns

Overall, Dichondra is a low-maintenance substitute for lawn grass. Its need for less frequent mowing, watering, and care makes it an attractive option for those looking to reduce lawn maintenance efforts.

Cons of Dichondra Lawns

Poorly Suited for Southern Blights

Dichondra may struggle with diseases like southern blight, particularly in warm and humid conditions of dry regions. This susceptibility may not be the best choice for specific climates.

May Require Multiple Watering Sessions During Hot Weather

Despite its drought tolerance, Dichondra may require more frequent watering during extended periods of hot weather during summer months to maintain its lush appearance.

Kidney Weed Can Become a Problem in Some Areas

In some regions, the Dichondra repens variety, known as kidney weed, can become overly aggressive and invasive, posing a challenge to garden management.

Does Not Grow More Than Two Inches Tall

Dichondra’s low growth habit, typically at most two inches in height, can be a disadvantage for those who prefer the look of a taller, traditional lawn.

Dichondra Lawn Alternatives

AlternativeDescription
CloverA low-maintenance option that’s drought-resistant and nitrogen-fixing, improving soil health.
MossIt is ideal for shady, moist areas where grass struggles and requires minimal mowing and upkeep.
Elfin ThymeIt offers a fragrant, low-growing, drought-tolerant cover and handles foot traffic well.
MicrocloverA compact variety of clover that creates a dense, green cover and enriches soil.
Creeping ThymeHardy and drought-tolerant, it’s known for its aromatic foliage and purple flowers.
Blue Star CreeperFeatures small blue flowers and thrives in both sun and partial shade, offering dense coverage.
Baby’s TearsProvides a lush, green carpet-like appearance, suitable for moist, shaded areas.
Corsican MintIt has a minty aroma and forms a dense mat, best for light foot traffic and cooler climates.

When considering alternatives to a Dichondra lawn, evaluating options that align with your specific gardening needs, aesthetic preferences, and the local climate is essential. Several other ground covers and lawn substitutes offer similar benefits to Dichondra while addressing some limitations.

Clover Lawns

Clover, mainly white clover, is an excellent alternative, known for its resilience and low maintenance ground cover. It can thrive in poor soil, requires minimal watering, and rarely needs mowing. Clover lawns are also beneficial for the soil, as they naturally fix nitrogen, improving soil fertility. Additionally, their flowers attract bees, enhancing the garden’s ecosystem.

Moss Lawns

Moss lawns are a suitable alternative for areas with dense shade and moist conditions where grasses struggle. Moss provides a soft, green carpet that requires little maintenance and no mowing. It thrives in acidic soils and can create a serene, forest-like ground cover in the right conditions.

Microclover

Microclover is a smaller-leaved variant of regular clover, blending well with grasses to form a dense, green lawn. It shares the nitrogen-fixing qualities of regular clover but with a more refined appearance. Microclover lawns are durable, require less watering, and maintain a vibrant green color even in dry conditions.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass known for its tolerance to heat and drought. It grows slowly, forming a thick, soft carpet that chokes out weeds and withstands heavy foot traffic. Zoysia is ideal for lawns that experience intense summers and mild winters.

Fescue Grasses

Fine fescue grass varieties suit cooler climates and shady areas. They are drought-resistant and require less fertilization and mowing than traditional lawn grasses. Fescue grasses are known for their fine blades and deep green color, offering a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn alternative.

Artificial Turf

For those seeking a no-maintenance option, artificial turf can replicate the look of a natural lawn without any upkeep. It’s ideal for urban settings, high-traffic areas, or places where growing a natural lawn is challenging. Modern artificial turfs are highly realistic and environmentally friendly, although they lack the ecological benefits of live plants.

How To Grow And Maintain Dichondra Lawn

Let’s look at the components and suitable conditions for Dichondra growth in your garden.

FeaturesDetails
Planting DepthSeed lightly covered with soil
Watering FrequencyRegularly until established; then as needed
Mowing HeightNot usually required; can trim for aesthetics
FertilizationLight feeding: apply balanced nitrogen fertilizer periodically
Soil pHPreferably between 6.0 to 7.0
SunlightFull sun to partial shade

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in growing a Dichondra lawn is selecting the appropriate location.

Dichondra thrives in areas with full sun to partial shade. Choosing a spot that receives at least four hours of sunlight daily is crucial. Avoid areas that are excessively wet or have poor drainage, as Dichondra prefers well-drained soil.

Soil Preparation

Before planting Dichondra, it’s essential to prepare the soil. Remove any weeds and debris and till the soil to a depth of about 4-6 inches. This plant prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH between 6 and 7, so test the soil and adjust accordingly. Enrich the soil with organic compost to improve fertility and drainage if necessary. Keep away from any soggy soil.

Planting Dichondra

Dichondra can be grown from seed or plugs. If using seeds, scatter them evenly over the prepared soil and lightly rake them in. Water the area gently but thoroughly to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. For plugs, plant them at regular intervals according to the recommended spacing, ensuring they are well-watered after planting.

Watering

Initial watering is critical for Dichondra. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged until the seeds germinate or the plugs are established. Once established, Dichondra is drought-tolerant but may require additional watering during extended periods of dry weather and direct sunlight.

Fertilizing

Dichondra does not require heavy fertilization. Applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring can support its growth. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive growth and the need for more frequent mowing.

Mowing

One of the benefits of Dichondra is its low-growth habit, which reduces the need for frequent mowing. Mowing dichondra may be necessary only to remove any unwanted seed heads or to maintain a uniform appearance. Set the mower to a high setting to avoid scalping the lawn during regular mowing.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

While Dichondra is resistant to many pests and diseases, it can still be susceptible to flea beetles and cutworms that feed on the foliage. Regularly inspect for signs and treat with organic or environmentally friendly products as needed.

Seasonal Care

In colder climates, Dichondra may go dormant in winter. It’s crucial to minimize foot traffic during this time. In spring, rake the lawn to remove dead material and aerate if necessary to encourage the new growth of dichondra plants.

Conclusion

Dichondra presents a unique option for lawns, combining beauty with practicality. Its benefits, such as low maintenance, drought tolerance, and ability to thrive in partial shade, make it an attractive alternative to traditional grass.

However, considering its limitations, like susceptibility to certain diseases and requirements in specific climates, is essential.

As with any gardening choice, understanding your garden’s particular needs and conditions is crucial in deciding whether Dichondra fits you.

By weighing its pros and cons, as detailed in this guide, you can make an informed decision, ensuring that your lawn has a green appearance and complements your lifestyle and local environment.

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