Your gardening and watering questions answered – Pasadena Star News

It may not have rained much this winter, but I received a flood of emails in response to a recent column about the water-saving virtues of clover when used as a replacement or lawn.

It must be said again that the clover does not support foot traffic so by substituting it for a lawn, you will appreciate its appearance, its resistance to drought, weeds and dog urine, and its welcoming presence vis-à-vis pollinating bees. However, you won’t want to play badminton or croquet on it.

The cost of removing an existing lawn is considerable, which is a good argument for sprucing it up with clover rather than ripping it out and planting a clover monoculture in its place. That being said, if you plan to set up a lawn on bare soil that will only need watering once a week but still stand up to foot traffic, consider a seed mix containing microclover, RTF (tall fescue rhizomatous) and perennial rye. You can find such a mix thanks to

  • Kurapia ground cover six months after planting. (Images courtesy of Ronald Chong)

  • Taken Kurapia.  (Images courtesy of Ronald Chong)

    Taken Kurapia. (Images courtesy of Ronald Chong)

  • Cuphea ignea cigar plant with Vancouver geranium.  (Picture by...

    Cuphea ignea cigar plant with Vancouver geranium. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • White clover growing under the redwoods in Beverly Hills.  (Photo...

    White clover growing under the redwoods in Beverly Hills. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Speaking of overseeding, I received an email from Locke McFarland, a gardener in Santa Ana, asking about this procedure on a lawn in Bermuda, while Stephen Picardi inquired about the possibility of doing it on a St. Augustine Lawn in Boca Raton, Florida. Bermuda and St. Augustine are known as warm season grasses because they grow in warm weather but go dormant when the weather cools. Thus, clover, which is always green, would prevent warm season grass areas from turning brown in winter. It should also be mentioned that St. Augustine is not as aggressive as Bermuda grass, as the former is propagated only by runners or air runners, while the latter is spread by both runners and air runners. underground stems called rhizomes.

Due to the aggressive growth of warm season grasses at this time of year, it can be more difficult for clover to gain a foothold than when these grasses go dormant. Keep in mind though that when we have a warm winter, the dormant period for warm season grasses can be quite brief so that in such a winter you will need to be extra careful when it comes to finding the good time to overseed.

Correspondent McFarland also mentions “ficus roots in a part of the lawn a few inches deep” and questions their compatibility with clover roots. Tree roots in lawns are a headache when they come to the surface, but as long as they stay underground, grass and clover can grow on them. However, ficus roots, especially those of the Indian laurel fig (Ficus microcarpa nitida), the ubiquitous species used for hedges and screens along property lines in Southern California, should never be planted. near lawns (or, if you ask me, anywhere else) due to their very aggressive roots that will eventually lift sidewalks, not to mention commandeer lawns and flower beds.

Finally, “Can you rake the miniclover (without damaging it)?” asks McFarland. “The ficus drops a few leaves sporadically throughout the year.” Raking can lead to the decapitation or even uprooting of some clovers, but you should quickly recover the losses thanks to regeneration facilitated by the clover’s stolons which will have taken root invisibly over their entire length.

Ryan Burns, who gardens in Lakewood, says he mows his Bermuda grass lawn twice a week and wonders if it might be too often if the mini clover grew there. You can mow a mini-clover improved lawn up to once a week. Frequent mowing promotes tighter growth. I should mention here that clover also grows in somewhat shady places, as I recently saw it thriving under the redwoods in Roxbury Park, located on Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Robin Dwyer emailed: “Like many Riverside residents, I live alongside a canyon full of hungry rabbits. Am I to assume that they will eat the clover down to the ground like they eat my grass? It’s no secret that rabbits find clover very much to their liking. The question is, “How much will they eat?” I would broadcast a pound of clover seed over 1000 square feet as an experiment. Some gardeners with vegetable or flower gardens plant clover as a decoy plant since rabbits prefer to eat it than carrots or petunias and so their vegetables and flowers are left untouched. Speaking of which, some gardeners visited by rabbits surround their gardens with lettuce, a favorite of rabbits, so that the vegetables on the other side of the lettuce barrier are left alone.

Lisa Brown, who gardens at Santa Rosa Valley in Ventura County, wrote the following: “I was wondering if you find mini clover to be more drought tolerant than Kurapia, and if there are any other benefits to one or the other ?” She also mentions that she is considering using ‘UC Verde’ buffalo grass for an area that can withstand foot traffic.

Clover and Kurapia, a ground cover with tiny leaves, are not known to withstand heavy foot traffic. While they can accept moderate walking on them, you wouldn’t turn a stretch of either into a play area for the kids. To replace a lawn of dichondra that has been decimated by flea beetles, Ronald Chong of Hacienda Heights planted a 600-square-foot area last November with 360 plugs of Kurapia at a cost of about $700. The Kurapia filled up well. The Kurapia variety he chose bears small pink flowers, but Chong notes that there is a white-flowered variety available at a slightly lower cost. You can acquire Kurapia caps with flowers of either color at

As for bison grass, it is native to the North American plains. However, a professor of environmental horticulture at UC Davis managed to select a cultivar suitable for California yards. ‘UC Verde’ uses 75% less water than tall fescue and 40% less water than Bermuda grass. It can grow in full sun to 50% shade. If you want a natural grassland look, you can let it grow up to 6 inches tall, but you can also keep it as low as an inch tall by mowing it every two weeks during the growing season. It experiences winter dormancy and will turn semi-brown during this season. You can cut it very low in November and overseed it with a cool season grass or, even better, wildflower seeds so you have a colorful spread to look at before it starts to green again in warmer weather. Outlets are available at

You can also consider a seed mix called Fleur de Lawn, available via It includes English daisy, white yarrow, white clover, strawberry clover, sweet alyssum, baby blue eye, as well as perennial rye and sheep’s fescue. Mowed once a month, it reaches a height of five inches, but it can be kept to three inches for a neater look. Yarrow allows the mix to grow in dappled shade as well as full sun.

And while we’re on the subject, the dwarf star carpet (Ruschia lineolata ‘Nana’) is a succulent groundcover that grows two inches tall and serves as a traffic-tolerant evergreen lawn alternative. heavy pedestrian traffic. White flowers with pink stripes bloom from late winter to early spring. Water consumption is up to 75% less than many turf varieties. Find star mat catches on

If you have had success growing clover, kurapia, buffalo grass, star carpet or any other alternative to a conventional lawn, you are invited to share your story with the readers of this column by sending by email at the address below.

Send your questions, comments and photos to [email protected].

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