Question from Candace and Cyrus:
We recently got rid of our entire fescue lawn and replaced it ( or tried to ) with UC Verde, a new form of buffalo grass specially engineered for the climate of the southwest. Unfortunately, because we are within a half mile of the coast, we received insufficient sunshine for the grass to establish. As a result, our entire lawn looks like a war zone now. We need a grassy area for our large German Sheperd /Great Dane mix to run. Our new drought guidelines restrict us to 10 minutes of watering 3 times a week. Any ideas? We live in Encinitas.
Answer from Pat:
One of the most pressing current needs of gardeners is a drought- and-wear-resistant ground cover to take the place of a lawn, especially for people who have dogs or children who love to run and play and can wear out many kinds of ground covers. My suggestions are these: First a bermudagrass lawn such as ‘Santa Ana’ or ‘Tifgreen’ is grass but it is very drought-resistant and will stay green along the coast even in winter and will take no more water than gazanias. In a drought it will pull in its horns and go brown but it will not die. It is far better to water it longer once a week than more shallowly and for less long three times a week as some cities now mistakenly legislate.
Secondly I suggest planting common yarrow (Achillea millefolium.) as a lawn. Plant seeds in fall and keep the ground damp until they are germinated. It will take a little time to become established but it will eventually make a ferny green mat that is very pleasant to walk on and very durable. The flowers are a bonus and can be taken off after blooms fade with a weed-wacker.
Thirdly I suggest Lippia (Phyla nodiflora). It is a drought-resistant, low groundcover that takes foot traffic, but it does bear pink flowers in June that bring bees. You can mow them off in June with a lawn mower in order that your dog’s paws won’t get bitten. (Bees in the garden don’t bite except when you accidentally step on one or grasp one by mistake. Bees do protect and guard their hives, however, but having a lawn that attracts bees won’t cause bees to make a hive in your garden.)
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