Show off your Shrubs and Borders without a Lawn!
By Sara Malone, Sonoma County Master Gardener
But why does it have to be turf grass that provides this feature?
It is the color, richness and carpet-like qualities that are necessary, not the “grassiness”. A few years ago, as I found myself tempted yet again to plant some small lawn areas, I decided instead to examine alternative candidates that did not share turf grass’s labor and water intensiveness. I discovered that groundcover manzanitas (Arctostaphylos) work so well I will never be tempted by turf grass again!
Manzanita generally requires well-draining soil and full sun (there are a few exceptions to the latter). It isn’t prone to insect or disease problems, never needs to be thatched or mowed, rarely needs to be fertilized and has small white or pink flowers in early spring followed by berries, to boot. About the only thing that a lawn provides that groundcover manzanita doesn’t is that you can walk or play on a lawn. Manzanita is just for eye appeal, but it does such a good job of that, most people will forgive it its one failing. Some groundcover manzanitas have center dieback as they age – I have suggested varieties that have less of a tendency to do that.
Which to plant? Some of my favorites