Groundcover to replace grass/lawn? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Here in hot muggy east TX we have so many snakes that we have to mow a much larger area around our house than I would like. What can I plant that will not grow too high, can replace grass, can tolerate heat/full sun, AND handle being walked on? I read that there's a creeping chamomile you can use but don't remember where I read it. Oh, and it has to be inexpensive (preferably nearly free!) Any ideas?

-- Elizabeth in E TX (, February 13, 2001


Hi Elizabeth. I live in east TX too, about 35 miles north of Houston. I have problems with groundcover too, parts of my yard are too low and swampy, too hot, too dry, too shady, whatever. It's sooooooo common but it really is a wonderful groundcover--liriope, also called monkey grass. It takes dense shade, blazing sunlight, dry soil, wet soil, etc. There is a really short, dwarf variety (don't recall the varity name) that gets about 2"-3", and most nurseries or Home Depot, etc carries it. You could walk on it, but not as a regular traffic area like St. Augustine. You can also get a taller variety, what you commonly see everywhere. As far as creeping chamomile, wouldn't that crush really easily? You could also plant ajuga if you plant it in a sunny, dry place, or English ivy if you live USDA zone 7 or 8, but those are not made for walking on, unless you put some kind of gravel/cement/mulch walkway thru it.

-- Hannah Maria Holly (, February 14, 2001.

I lived in northeast Tx(Tyler) most of my life. I also had a successful lawn and landscaping business. There really aren't any groundcovers that would do. Most of them would be great for snakes. You might want to look into zoysia doesn't have to be mowed quite as often and is fairly drought hearty. I absolutely wouldn't plant any form of monkey grass. First of all it is great mosquito habitat...second it will NEVER go away if you change your mind..not to mention it gets pretty tall(not familiar with the miniature that was mentioned earlier). Something I did for a client that looked really nice is landscaping with gravel. The portion you don't want to mow just put landscaping timbers around and lay down plastic then cover with an attractive color of gravel. You might want to plant a nice shrub or two so it doesn't look so bare. As bad as I hate it yucca would be a good choice. Or you could do what I did with my large yard. My yard used to be a pasture so it had tons of bahia grass(the ones where the V shaped shoots come us the day after you mow...grrr) so I just let it grow up and then I cut it with a weed-eater just as a sickle would cut hay. Made fine hay. Yes I did find snakes in the high grass but I just whacked em with the weed whacker. Of course this only works if you don't have close neighbors...they complain your place looks tacky with the high grass. You'd be surprised how much hay you can get off of a fairly small area. I did it unintentionally a time or two with my whole yard :o).

-- Amanda in Mo (, February 14, 2001.


I sympathize with your mowing problems. We have approx. 2 acres of grass to cut and it's getting to be a real pain to mow - it takes us about 6 hours to cut each time! If it's a real wet summer we end up mowing every 5 days... Ugh! :-(

We're planning on changing over to Buffalo Grass starting this spring - it requires little or no mowing and needs a lot less water than Bluegrass. I'm also going to order some creeping thyme for a spot near our back door. I'm trying anything and everything to lessen our cutting time! :-/

As for your situation, you might want to check out High Country Gardens. They specialize in xeriscape plants.

I'm not sure if they carry the chamomile you're looking for but they have a ton of plants (including several different groundcovers).

Here is a link to their web site:

High Country Gardens

And yes, they have a free catalog you can order from the web site.

Good luck in your search...

-- Jim Morris (, February 14, 2001.

But, Amanda, those snakes also keep the rodents and other nasties down. Let the snakes be!

-- tommaso (, February 14, 2001.

Mother of Thyme, anyone. I hear it can handle moderate (whatever that is) traffic. Pluss it smells good when you walk on it and only grows a few inches high. It's a Mediteranean plant, like most mints, so it really thrives in hot, sunny areas.

-- Soni (, February 14, 2001.

Tommaso.....I wasn't talking about grass snakes or even just plain old chicken snakes. All I ever got in the yard was cotton mouth mocassins and copperheads. These snakes are thick as ticks on a hound in east Tx. I have kids that enjoy running around barefoot and aren't very good about watching where they are going. I noramally don't kill non-poisonous snakes. When I had my lawn service I'd even catch grass snakes at some of the places I took care of and bring them home to release in my garden. Lizards and frogs went into the garden too :o).

-- Amanda in Mo (, February 15, 2001.

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