grumperella
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Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:35 pm

L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help!

Hello there, I'm new here! I live in the SF Valley in North L.A. - unlike Santa Monica, the Valley gets HOT, 90s-100s in the summer, 60s-70s in the winter. According to USDA map, I'm in Hardiness Zone 10b.

Our backyard is huge and all lawn - we want to replace it completely to save on watering & maintenance costs.

We want a ground cover that will do well with light traffic (no kids running around on it daily, but it will get use), FULL SUN, and should be drought-resistant. I would like it to be hardy, evergreen (as much as possible) and WALKABLE - it should be pleasant to walk on with bare feet.

I've been doing lots of research, but cannot seem to find anything that meets all of these criteria. Can someone help me who knows more about this?

So far these options seem to fit some, but not all of the criteria. Am I on the right track?
- Dwarf Mondo Grass
- Micro-clovers or Dutch clover
- Green Carpet Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra)
- Creeping Wire Vine
- Scotch Moss
- Irish moss

Ksk
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Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:57 pm

Re: L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help

In New Mexico I have seen beautiful buffalo grass lawns in the desert. It is really hot here too. This is a warm season grass. It is a matt grass with a low habit. It is a native grass so isn't really a manicured look but more natural looking. When it is dry it can look pale but will "green up" when more water or rain is available. In other words it does not brown up and die fast but shrinks and comes back based upon rainfall or watering. Once established it is pretty tough but not for constant traffic. It takes a while to establish but I have seen lawns that are large (1/2 acre) and it looks great. You can mow it but overall it stays very low. It sends out runners to fill in and spread. It is soft underfoot. It is Considered a Xeric lawn cover here and is quite beautiful.

grumperella
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:35 pm

Re: L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help

That is really helpful, thank you! I've also seen some articles mention buffalo grass but was worried it would still go brown or not be very soft underfoot. This is good to know!

Ksk
Cool Member
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:57 pm

Re: L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help

If you water it the Buffalo grass can be truly lush. In a rainy season it will be green as well. If your town has water restrictions it can get dry but the main benefit is that it won't die while you wait for the rain and it can bounce back.
If you have to let it get by on minimum water you can let it go pale knowing that it isn't dead. Of course during severe drought it is not as nice underfoot but will respond based on how much water you put on it.

imafan26
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help

Your criteria makes it hard to find something that is going to feel like grass but not be grass. Most non grass ground covers will not stand up to kid traffic.

Most of the slow growing warm season grasses can handle traffic when mature, but will take a long time to grow in and still need quite a bit of water.

You could reduce your lawn size to just enough for outdoor activities and play areas and plant the rest with natives for interest and color and natives will usually need less maintenance and water.

Or, you could actually put in astro turf which will give you the green of grass and playability for the kids with very little maintenance although like other carpets, it does have a lifespan, but it will keep the soil down and out of the house and you won't have to water or mow it.

In Hawaii, astro turf is not the usual alternative. Here people will cement the yard and paint it green and just leave small areas for planting beds, trees, and a lawn the size of a putting green. For the kid areas you can put down the rubber mats or mulch that is used for playgrounds for a softer landing.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

ButterflyLady29
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1031
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: L.A. - Looking for ground cover, lawn replacement - Help

Dutch clover has worked well for me but my area is quite a bit cooler than yours. One drawback to the clover is that it flowers and those flowers attract honey bees. When stepped on, bees usually sting. It tolerates quite a bit of foot traffic and is soft underfoot. I have it under my clothesline and it has held up very well in my horrid clay soil.

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