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Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons

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Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons

Dichondra is the name of a genus of small size, creeping flowering plants in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae.

There are several species that fall into this category but in the botanical community, certain factions recognize only two Dichondra carolinensis and Dichondra repens. In other academic circles, over ten different species are recognized as members of this genus.

The defining characteristic of dichondra plants is that they are largely perennial prostrate plants with creeping stems and fairly insignificant flowering. In many places where they are found naturally, they are treated as weeds and periodically discarded through weeding or sprayed with pesticides.

Dichondra is a favorite for landscaping and many gardeners refer to the plants as lawn-leaf. Several cultivars have been developed in past decades for this ornamental purpose and with good reason.

The creeping nature of the plants makes it a suitable substitute for grass and the lush leaf growth they sustain gives your lawn a luscious appeal.

In the past, Dichondra micrantha was a favorite for lawn foliage but has since been replaced in favor of Dichondra repens.

The ‘repens’ has a fairly similar lush green appearance to Dichondra micrantha. Dichondra argentea which is also known as ‘silver falls’ for its peculiar silvery countenance is also used as lawn decor.

Advantages of a Dichondra Lawn

Minimal Maintenance

Dichondra as a species is quite resilient and does well with minimal input. The plants are after all considered weeds and behave like so, growing anywhere habitable enough. The plants can withstand fairly high temperatures and survive through the winter without dying altogether. 

Dichondra argentae or silver falls in particular, is an annual and does not need to be cultivated anew each season. If you are looking for a plant that can continue to grow all year round then this is the species for you. 

 

Very Thick Undergrowth

The leaves of dichondra plants are about 2-3 inches wide when mature and the plant does not grow taller than eight inches. Since they are creeping plants these characteristics facilitate the development of thick luscious undergrowth and once established it is almost impossible to perceive the level of the ground beneath. 

The thick undergrowth potential makes dichondra a marvelous option for lawn cover since it forms a dense beautiful colorful carpet across the ground. Dichondra makes an excellent alternative to lawn grass.

 

Lush Colorful Aesthetic

Dichondra argentae has a silvery face while Dichondra repens boasts a stunning bright green. Both species produce small numerous flowers that can be green, white, or yellow. 

Depending on which species you have on your lawn, your space can be a carpet of green, silver, yellow, white, or a collage of all these colors. Your lawn can have a beautiful graceful look or playful appeal at any one time.

Grows and Propagates Easily

Dichondra plants grow quickly and easily, sprouting within fourteen days and every three weeks they need mowing down so they do not overgrow. Even with a perennial species like the Dichondra repens, redressing your lawn afresh after harsh winters should be quite easy and fast. 

Dichondra does not need any special care during the harsher summers since they can withstand direct sunlight and minimal shade if any, should see your lawn grass last through to the fall.

Hanging Gardens

If you need a plant that can make exquisite hanging gardens then dichondra is the plant for you. Their creeping stems make them ideal for creating cascading green and silver motifs drooping all over your lawn and used this way, the results are fascinating.

Hanging gardens create fairy tale allure that makes for a truly relaxing natural and pleasant aesthetic.

Disadvantages of a Dichondra Lawn

Prone to Pests and Disease

The dichondra species is fairly resistant to pests and diseases but when attacked by either it takes a very short while for the entire foliage to die off necessitating clearing and replanting. 

Alternaria fungus is often problematic for dichondra although it may be that overwatering the established plant is what triggers the growth of this fungus. Cutworms and fleabeetle are pests that tend to destroy entire covers of dichondra and can only be managed by using pesticides.

Attracts Unwanted Fauna

Small snakes, snails, and slugs are known to make their habitat naturally under the thick undergrowth of dichondra plants. It is a worrying nuisance to have little slimy critters all over your feet as you relax on your lawn. 

Some can be discouraged by pesticide use but overall, you may have to learn to co-exist with some of these creatures. Since most are harmless, it is possible to tolerate and even come to love them although most people do not feel this way.

Cannot Withstand Heavy Traffic

Despite the thick dense nature of these plants, they are not suited for lawns that have to withstand consistent heavy traffic. Though they will recover readily, too much trampling means a lot of dead foliage will occur making the place very murky and unpleasant as the dead leaves rot and decompose. 

Event venues for instance should absolutely not use dichondra but and suburban gardens and country clubs can utilize this plant beautifully.

Can be Difficult to Mow

Mowing dichondra lawns is not as easy as mowing common lawn grasses. The creeping stems are not only thicker in girth but are also succulent and should they be particularly robust, mowing your lawn will be harder due to this characteristic. 

The solution here is to make sure you mow your lawn while the stems are still young which is when they are no more than four or five inches long.

Can Cause Dermatitis in Animals and Humans

While the plant is largely harmless, some people are allergic to it especially the sap from the stems. There is no way to be certain of this until you, your family, or your guests have come into contact with the plant. A particularly bad reaction could require medical attention. 

Dogs and humans will suffer dermatitis upon contact with the plant if allergic and worse reactions could occur if ingested. Most of the common lawn grasses have almost no reaction when ingested.

Well, that’s it for “Dichondra Lawn Pros and Cons” but please don’t hesitate sharing more insights on the same in the comments section.

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