Friday, April 6, 2012

FAQ: Would dwarf mondo be a good choice for my landscape?

Dwarf Mondo lawn

Q. I have a large area, approx. 1.000 sq. ft. under large oak trees.  Grass of any kind does not do well. Mondo grass has been recommended. Dwarf Mondo seems to be a good choice. I live in northern FL. If if chose Mondo grass how much would be needed to cover the area? How far apart would sprigs be planted? How long to expect the plant to cover bare areas? Any other info would be  appreciated.

A. If you're looking for something turf-like, mondo (Ophiopogon japonicus) would be a good choice, but dwarf spreads fairly slowly. The actual length of time required before coverage depends on several variables: irrigation, fertilization, soil conditions. Leaf blades are 2 inches to 3 inches. If you plant bare root sprigs, they should be planted fairly close together. 4 inches or so would be ideal. For 1000 sq. ft., you'd need 9000 sprigs. (I do offer quantity discounts.) If you planted 6 inches apart, you'd need 4000 sprigs.

The longer blade mondo spreads more quickly. In addition, the longer blades (6 inches to 8 inches) give the appearance of quicker coverage.

Liriope spicata also grows in full shade. It spreads much more rapidly. Leaf blades are about 12 inches long. They can be mown occasionally. Liriope spicata can be planted farther apart. If planted 8 inches apart, you'd need 2250 sprigs. If planted 10 inches apart, you'd need 1450 sprigs. At 12 inches apart you'd need 1000 sprigs.

Liriope muscari has broader leaves than L.spicata, so doesn't appear so turf-like. 'Royal Purple' is a good one for coverage. Spreads nicely.

Other shade-tolerant ground covers that also tolerate dry soil (which I expect you have under oaks), that do NOT have turf-like appearance, include Ajuga reptans, Chrysogonum virginianum, Euonymus fortunei, Glechoma hederacea, Lamium maculatum, Hedera helix, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Pachysandra terminalis, Vinca major and V. minor. Most can be planted farther apart.

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