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What’s Underfoot: Grass or Ground Cover

Opinion: grass or ground cover?

Creating a garden or an outdoor space is a bit like making a team, everyone serves a purpose, everyone has their specialty, and everyone works together to better the whole.

When considering dressing up an area, the first question you want to ask is what is the purpose of this space? Is it a garden, a play space, a dog run? How much heat, sunlight and foot traffic will it need to withstand? How much water does it need? All of these elements play into the final design and help you as a homeowner keep your teammates happy. Turf grass, the tried and true backbone of a lawn is a pivotal part of planning a design. Ground cover, however is a specialized player that can perform in unique conditions; providing an additional flare to amplify the feeling, color, texture, or even the scent of a space. 

Take here for example, our designer Jill used Berkeley Sedge – a shade tolerant Texas native with a strong root structure and low watering needs to fill in a level of this terraced lawn. Draped in shade from a hearty oak tree, the visual texture and color of the sedge adds a detail of transition between the layers. The homeowner will get relief from heavier watering responsibilities and the added benefit of getting to see these delightful grasses fluff up into graceful mounds around the base of their beloved Live Oak. Not only did the ground cover meet the needs of the homeowner and the environment, but it also highlighted the design by amplifying an existing focal point. Ground cover – in addition to grass.


In contrast, here Jill chose Woolly Stemodia – a heat and drought tolerant perennial that creeps across this borderless xeriscape. This Texas Native’s velvet foliage spreads rapidly, needs very little water and creates a suede ‘green-carpet effect’. These homeowners get to enjoy a soft expanding ground cover, the weed suppression it provides and the seasonal surprise of little lilac blooms popping up for pollinators in the late spring. Ground cover – instead of grass.


As we move into Spring and our plans begin to expand further outdoors, have another look at all your hard workers creating the perfect picnic spot. Have fun with transitions and borders and designated spaces for soccer dribble practice. Grass or ground cover? Either. Or both. Whatever you decide, whether you go with grass, ground cover, or all things between – enjoy your lawn and all its counterparts. Happy Springtime everyone, thanks for reading!

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