Ground covers are gaining popularity as grass substitutes because they are easy to maintain. Also, as a gardener, you can make the most out of a ground cover. Dichondra lawn is no exception!
Dichondra lawn is a perennial lawn cover alternative that grows into a beautiful green carpet-like mat.
It brings aesthetic ambiance to your landscape and grows in areas that the normal tuft won’t. However, it does not do well under heavy traffic and prolonged drought.
Therefore, before settling on planting dichondra seeds, you need to understand dichondra lawn pros and cons to make an informed decision. Let us explore them further in this article.
What Is Dichondra Lawn?
Dichondra lawn refers to a perennial herbaceous ground cover mostly used in landscaping as an alternative to lawn grass. It is an evergreen, fast-growing creeping plant with broad, kidney-shaped leaves.
It is a warm-season plant that grows in partial shade but does even better in full sun.
Notably, dichondra leaves are frost-resistant, thus maintaining their bright green shade, with only a few leaves turning yellowish during winter.
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Dichondra is a ground-hugging plant that rarely exceeds two inches in height. It is also a low-maintenance ground cover compared to lawn grass. It can be mowed utmost four times yearly or not trimmed ever.
This ground cover plant tolerates minimal traffic and does well in small lawns, between stepping stones, hanging baskets, etc.
Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons
The advantages of having a dichondra lawn outweigh its disadvantages.
Dichondra Lawn Pros
1. Low Maintenance
Using grass as your lawn cover is a popular choice, but such a lawn requires regular maintenance if you are to realize a healthy, lush green grass cover, and it takes so much time, money, and effort.
However, you can minimize yard work by planting dichondra. Being a low-growing lawn, you don’t have to mow it frequently or not mow it at all; it would still look neat.
Also, it does not demand frequent deep watering. The only time you water in quick succession is when its broad leaves turn yellow during extreme heat conditions.
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2. Perfect For Landscaping
Dichondra propagates fast but grows as tall as 2 inches, forming a beautiful dense mat with its smooth, evergreen-broad leaves.
Coupled with its whitish-to-greenish flowers, this herbaceous plant adds ambiance to your lawn. Thus, it is ideal along sidewalks, in-between garden rocks, and fruit gardens to add that appealing touch.
3. It Does Not Suffocate Other Plants Or Turf
The Dichondra plant is perfect when grown in bare spots on your lawn or between pavers.
Despite being a fast-growing plant, rest assured that it will thrive well without choking off or competing with your turfgrass and other plants.
4. Protects Against Soil Erosion
Dichondra plant inhibits soil erosion, especially in bare spots with well-drained soil. It grows and spreads rapidly but low to the ground, forming a solid ground cover that fills the loose spaces in soil susceptible to wind or water erosion.
5. Serves As An All-Season Ground Cover
Dichondra ground cover thrives well in partial shade but is best in full sun conditions. Nonetheless, its leaves can dry up in extreme summer heat if not well-maintained.
The dichondra does exceptionally well during the winter season despite being a warm-season plant.
It maintains its evergreen leaf blades and only turns brownish in extremely-low temperatures. Therefore, it’s an impeccable substitute for other warm-season tuft and plant covers.
Dichondra Lawn Cons
With the pros covered, what are the downsides?
1. Susceptible To Some Pests And Diseases
Pests like Dichondra flea beetles, cutworms, and caterpillars like to feed on the dichondra plant, thus damaging it. Fortunately, you can make use of pesticides to manage a serious pest infestation.
Regarding diseases, dichondra lawn is susceptible to southern blights and leafspots diseases that cause dead areas in the plant.
When widely spread, control these diseases using fungicides. You can manage leaf spot disease caused by Alternaria Fungus by limiting its water uptake.
2. Cannot Withstand Heavy Traffic
If your kids and pets love playing on the lawn, then dichondra lawn isn’t for you. When exposed to heavy foot traffic, this ground cover deteriorates swiftly but takes ages to recover.
3. Low Tolerance To Drought
This ground cover features shallow roots that find it difficult to reach the soil water beneath, especially during prolonged drought hence withering off.
Varieties Of Dichondra
Several dichondra species differ from each other mainly based on foliage color and individual uses.
The main varieties are:
1. Dichondra Repens
Dichondra repens the most popular variety of dichondra. Sometimes referred to as the lawn leaf or kidney weed, it features kidney-shaped leaves, bright green foliage, and a silver stem.
It is a perfect alternative to lawn grass and also in-between rock plants.
2. Dichondra Argentea
Also known as ‘silver falls,’ this variety is well known for its attractive silver foliage and fan-shaped leaves.
Coupled with its cascading habit, Dichondra Argentea serves as an ornamental grass, informing its application as an accent plant.
You will find this dichondra species in hanging baskets and pots and on rock walls, among other places.
3. Dichondra Carolinensis
Dichondra Carolinensis commonly feature tiny kidney-shaped green leaves with small-sized inconspicuous greenish flowers.
This variety is commonly referred to as Carolina ponyfoot.
Just like the lawn life, it is used in landscaping as an alternative to lawn turf. You will also find it near water bodies and butterfly gardens.
Where Does Dichondra Grow Best?
Dichondria is classified as best planted under the USDA hardiness zone of seven to eleven (7-11) and in cool coastal climates.
It thrives well when planted under full sun, preferably receiving six hours of sunlight per day. The result is a soft, lush plant with dense, broad leaves.
Before planting dichondra, ensure that day temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit while night temperatures don’t drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The lawn leaf also grows in partial shade, although they do not achieve their utmost growth potential in such conditions.
To ensure it grows and spreads quickly, sow the dichondra during late spring or early fall. Once it establishes, it can thrive even in the winter season.
Regarding soil type, dichondra grows best on well-drained soil, preferably sandy loam soil.
It also does well in nutrient-rich soil, especially one containing nitrogen, which is responsible for its rich green color.
Do I Need To Mow Dichondra Lawn?
Since the dichondra lawn grows as tall as two inches, you do not have to mow it at all.
However, if you choose to mow, you can cut it four times a year, or if using it as a lawn alternative, you can mow once in two weeks.
Usually, landscapers who prefer to mow dichondra maintain its height at one and a half inches.
Does Dichondra Need A Lot Of Water?
Dichondra does not need a lot of water. A general rule of thumb is to check the moisture level of its half-inch topsoil; if it is dry, you can water your dichondra.
Also, the amount of water it requires depends on whether it is a young seedling or a mature plant. For seedlings, you may have to water it lightly but more frequently, if possible daily, depending on their soil’s moisture content.
However, mature dichondra requires deep but infrequent watering, allowing the plant to dry before the next watering session.
So, for each water application, consider applying about 25mm of water to soak down the soil well.
It is clear that the merits of the dichondra lawn far outweigh its demerits, and it can make an excellent lawn cover.
What stands out most is its ability to withstand harsh conditions that otherwise normal turf won’t and its low maintenance.
Given the right conditions, care, and maintenance, this low-profile perennial plant is bound to flourish in your lawn as a ground cover or as an ornamental plant.
Hey there, I’m Derek Schew, a writer for Lawnholic.com, where we cover everything and anything related to lawns. As someone who’s spent countless hours tending to my own lawn, I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others achieve the perfect yard. From lawn care tips to product reviews, I’m committed to providing our readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information available. So whether you’re a seasoned lawn enthusiast or just getting started, I invite you to join our community and discover the joys of a lush, green lawn.