A little girl steps off the wooden deck in her backyard onto the cool, green carpet of grass. You can almost feel the delicate grass envelop your own foot as you watch her tiny toes.

“Don’t step on it!” her mother shrieks from a chaise lounge on the deck.

Just fertilized? A dousing of herbicide? You wonder why the toddler can’t step on that green pasture of a lawn. The answer: it’s dichondra, also spelled “dicondra.”

The Beauty of Dichondra

Dichondra grows with small leaves on the top of stems that are about two inches high. The flat leaves growing right next to each other create what looks like a low canopy of ground cover. It’s a bright green, and it only needs to be mowed about every one to two weeks to keep it looking neat. You really don’t have to mow it all–it’s not actually considered a grass. It is a “broadleaf groundcover.”

The Downfall of Dichondra

Dichondra is not super easy to grow, and is not tolerant to drought or salinity. It is best grown in smaller areas, especially since it does not tolerate traffic well at all. Mother’s screaming is just as necessary to protect the dichondra as it is to protect the work that went into it. Herbicides and insecticides will probably be necessary, if you want to keep it looking in tip-top shape.

Dichondra Needs Love

This broadleaf groundcover needs loose soil that should be roto-tilled down six inches to start. It can’t be watered too frequently or you will encourage weeds. It needs deep watering to encourage the roots to establish properly.

All in all, dichondra is a beautiful groundcover that is not a good choice for the casual gardener–unless you will do anything not to have to mow your yard.