Greetings from Richmond, Virginia, in USDA Zone 7. I bought a new house in
February of this year and have had no success at growing a lawn so I'm
looking for other options. I don't care that much about having a perfectly
manicured lawn, I just want something that looks green from the street and
the house. The yard in question has heavy brown clay soil, gets full sun
all day, provides recreational space for two good-sized dogs, and is
bordered by two large pin oaks. Due to the size of the yard and the fact
that the contractor who built my house last year basically dumped a bunch of
crap dirt on the lot during construction, amending the soil to support a
lawn would be too expensive and time-consuming to be practical at this
point. (And needless to say, sodding is out of the question.) Can anyone
give me a recommendation for a dog-friendly ground cover that would grow
green under those conditions? I'd prefer something that grows no more than
6" in height. I'm asking a lot, I know, but it's worth the question.
Thanks in advance for your help.
=======================Basic human psychology is one of my subroutines.
You might look into Prunella vulgaris lanceolata (self-Heal, allheal or
Lawn Prunella) or Anthemis nobilis (lawn chamomile) & Koeleria macrantha
(June Grass) & Dichondra repens (kidney grass) or Laurentia fluviatili
(blue-star creeper) to see if any of those are suited to your area &
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
Dandilions are quite nice they will grow in about any soil and just
every grow zone (except for the really cold ones)
They give a nice yellow flower in the spring and they stay green all
The best part is they will hardly need to be mowed.
I get several million seeds a year if you want some feel free to ask.
The least expensive thing would be to figure out why your grass didn't grow
and correct that. I love ground covers, but unless your have a postage
stamp-sized lot, the cost of planting ground cover might be overwhelming.
Furthermore, many ground covers are slow to get established, and you would
have a transition period of sparse coverage. The bare areas would allow
weeds to get established and you could have erosion problems unless your lot
is flat. Things like clover and crown vetch make good covers but they also
bloom and attract a lot of bees which you could find unacceptable if you
plan to walk through the area. The approach I have taken is to minimize the
turf area using, it to connect beds. It is a ribbon that unifies the
landscape rather than the primary focus. Maintaining a small amount of
turf, particularly if you are willing to overlook some weeds, isn't all that
All the soil in my area is heavy clay and people are able to have reasonably
good lawns without exceptional care. I would suggest that you contact your
county's cooperative extension agent and get some advice on turf care.
He/she can probably help you with a soil analysis and suggest the
appropriate type of grass for your situation. I could recommend a number of
low ground cover plants that could take some traffic, but none would be
inexpensive for a large area. You can get some ideas from these links:
Have tried once Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and it gave a ver
staisfying result. The plant has fine texture, and can withstand ligh
traffic. The ground cover is hardy to about 0 degrees F
Yo, Rhonda -
You've received some excellent suggestions, all aimed at giving you
the desired "dog-friendly ground cover" on inhospitable terrain.
Here's a heretical suggestion, coming from So.Calif. which is
basically a desert. (Wouldn't be nuthin' here if water hadn't
been brought in from elsewhere; see "Chinatown").
People are now starting to consider xeriscapic (sp?) gardening, ,
which uses much le$$ water. City Hall pushes the idea with
illustrative garden plots.
There's a place in my neighborhood that uses as ground
cover the larger size mini-bark, and intersperses it with
appropriate plantings. Looks austere, but attractive.
I realize you have plenty of water in Virginia, so this is
just a thought; consider a bark-type ground cover that serves your
immediate purpose, but at the same time, start modifying
the soil underneath (sorry about the contractor's misdeed!). It will
indeed take several years, but a journey of a thousand miles starts
with a single step (old Indian saying). If you keep modifying the
soil, eventually you will be able to plant whatever you want.
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