The Q&A Archives: Changing From Grass To Ground Cover

Question: I reside in Zone 11. Cold in winter/hot in summer. I want to replace the grass in my yard with low growing ground cover. Area is in semi shade most of the day. Full sun at midday. It is surrounded by juniper bushes on the north side. And the house partially on the south. The rest of the surround is rose bushes with a large gazebo in one corner. What would you suggest that looks lush, but is heat tolerant, and saves on water?

Answer: There are a number of plants that could be used as a ground cover ranging from the traditional evergreen, blue-flowered periwinkle or vinca minor (kept in bounds by a periodic edging with a shovel) to some of the easy perennials such as creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) or Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) or perhaps daylilies (Hemerocallis) or a creeping form of sedum. In all cases, however, they will establish faster and grow better with less maintenance if you take care to prepare the soil first before you plant by working in plenty of organic matter. In addition, a few inches of organic mulch placed around the plants will help keep down weeds, reduce erosion and help maintian a more even soil temperature and moisture level while they are establishing themselves. Good luck with your project!

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