En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - March 22, 2008

From: Garland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Turf
Title: Pros and cons of Hydrocotyl bonariensis as lawn replacement
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Want to convert lawn TO dollar weed! My Garland TX yard has become so shady over the years that I have a hard time with grass. A few years ago I noticed dollar weed in the grass which seemed to create an 'under carpet'. I have left it, and it seems to be taking over the shady parts of my yard - and I like it, but the plant gets only bad press. It doesn't seem to need watering or mowing, it stays lower than the lawn mower's blades, the round leaves are really pleasant...like violet leaves... its easy to walk on, it grows between the flag stone that I am increasingly laying where grass no longer grows, AND its a NATIVE plant! Can you tell me anything about the plant - how thickly will it grow? Is there any place to GET seeds to help increase the thickness of the coverage? How is it propagated? via roots or seeds? Why is it so despised?

ANSWER:

Well, guess what? Hydrocotyle bonariensis (largeleaf pennywort), which is probably the one you have, seems like a nice, natural lawn replacement where there is too much shade and moisture. In fact, as we looked through references to this plant, it seemed that many, if not most, of the sites knocking dollarweed were sponsored by herbicide manufacturers. Go to this site emilycompost and get some positive feedback. If you call it "pennywort", which is another common name, you'll find there is a lot less negative comment about it. Another native plant, Dichondra recurvata (oakwoods ponysfoot), looks very similar but is not related. Dichondra is widely used, especially in California, as a lawn plant. It's very ironic that you are probably replacing one of two invasive, non-native grasses-St. Augustine and Bermuda-with a native, attractive, low maintenance ground cover.

In terms of propagation, since Hydrocotyle bonariensis (largeleaf pennywort) is a native plant which volunteered to live in your lawn, I think you might just let Nature take its course. It is a perennial, with stems creeping and rooting at the nodes; it spreads by rhizomes. It's going to do better in the shady environment and around your flagstones than a competing grass. It does bloom, from April to September, and probably will seed out from that. If you can convince your husband that it reduces his mowing, it's evergreen, needs less water and is going to be there anyway, you probably will have no further problem. If it chooses to get into flower beds, you'll probably want to remove it, but it's certainly less invasive in that respect than the St. Augustine and Bermuda.


Dichondra recurvata

Hydrocotyle bonariensis

 

 

More Turf Questions

Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
August 03, 2011 - Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas
view the full question and answer

Growth of non-native bermudagrass in Snelville GA
July 16, 2011 - How do you grow Bermuda grass successfully in the state of Georgia? Techniques in fertilization, lawn cutting and general maintenance. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Submerged paving under lawn
September 07, 2008 - I had 4 patches of rectangular areas (about 4'x6'or more) in my lawn where the grass is fine in spring but totally dies in summer. I decided to till these bare patches so that grass may grow better...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for Arlington, VA.
September 10, 2015 - Hi, could you please provide me with a recommendation for a native turf grass to plant in a large commercial area in Arlington, Virginia. Currently Kentucky 31 is being used, but we would like to iden...
view the full question and answer

Maple roots in lawn in Denton TX
June 03, 2010 - I purchased a new home 4 years ago that came with a landscape package. There are 2 trees in the front yard that I think are red maple trees. I am now seeing their roots appear above the ground which...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center