Xericstyle

Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Frogfruit “lawn”…

I have finalized my plans for the backyard after over a year of sketches!  I am so excited to show all of you!  But before I do, I want to talk about a gorgeous and useful Texas native plant, and why I have chosen it to be our “lawn”…our “negative space” (David, thank you for hammering this concept into my head).  I have always loved seeing Texas frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora)  in hanging baskets and containers…or little patches here and there.  But while camping at Inks Lake State Park, it came to me.  It was then my plan of a frogfruit “lawn” was hatched.  All over the picnic area by the lake is frogfruit.  It is everywhere, it is well trampled, it is in full-sun, the soil is compacted and clay-ish like mine, it mingled well in nature with other “weeds” and grasses including, but not limited to, dreaded bermuda grass…and most importantly IT JUST WORKS! frogfruit in tramples picnic areaAbove:  Frogfruit mingling well with other weeds and grasses.Frogfruit flowers - how adorable!Frogfruit is an incredible nectar source when other things are not blooming.  I love the way it looks like miniature pineapples!  HOSPITALITY! HELLO!beyond my beautiful girl...frogfruit "lawn" everywhereBeyond my baby girl, a sea of green frogfruit groundcover.  Notice that it is bare in only the most travelled human paths and immediate picnic table areas.

So learning from nature, and applying it (hopefully effectively):

-My yard has similar compacted clay’ish soil in the areas I will plant it.

-My future frogfruit “lawn”is currently in full-sun like at this location at Inks Lake.  Frogfruit can thrive in part-sun as well, so when my newly planted trees grow-up, it should continue to thrive.

-I used to have bermuda grass in the area I will plant the frogfruit.  I have killed the grass,  but we all know I have not seen the end of it. ;) GRRRrrrr

-I DO NOT WANT GRASS IN MY BACKYARD – OR ANYWHERE ELSE ON OUR PROPERTY.

-I DO want negative space for the eye to rest – and my husband wants that space to be green and not hot rock.

-I will create paths in the most highly travelled areas, and I will not plant it in picnic table areas, the fire pit area, etc. Although it is noteworthy that we are a family of four, and the photos are taken at a state park travelled by hundreds if not thousands of people yearly…and it has mostly stood up.  That equals an incredible and durable native ground covering in my books!  It is all about the right plant in the right place – this plant is documented and proven to do well in the conditions I have for it, therefore, I suspect here at home it will work very well.

This is an experiment I look forward to doing and sharing with all of you!

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16 Comments

  1. Perfect! I’ve used this plant as ground over in my garden and it survives well, maybe a little water at the very hottest times of year; the planting you saw was by a lake so I suspect that it does receive some water. I also planted it instead of grass in a tiny front garden for a client. Good choice too because it spreads really quickly. If you get a couple of plants it will soon be enough for your whole back garden. Christina

    • I looooove hearing this! Thank you Christina!!!!! What have you seen in the winter???- xericstyle

  2. Frogfruit is a great groundcover. I planted one sprig from a four inch pot of it in a low corner of my backyard a couple of years ago and it now covers a 15×15 area. I trim it away from my pathway a couple of times a year and cut it short with a mower or line trimmer before growth starts in the spring. I messed up this year and got the line trimmer too close to a small Mexican plum and stripped off the bark. Argh! I have considered using frogfruit in larger areas of my garden. At the rate it spreads, I may not have anything to consider in a couple of years.

    • Excellent news!!!!!! So as far as borders go, does it jump them and completely misbehave? I want mine to spread quickly in a large area, but I still want it to stay within bounds when I trim it at borders…. Thanks for sharing your experience, Michael. – xericstyle

      • It roots all along the stems on top of the soil, so it should be easy to control as long as you don’t let the stems stray for too long. It may not be as much of an issue in your drier climate, but you will probably have better luck keeping it in bounds with some sort of edging. I have never seen it spread from seed or any kind of underground root. Oh, and if frogfruit gets some foot traffic, it will stay shorter than if it is not walked on. Mine might be 6-8 inches high by the end of summer in the areas it is not walked on. Good luck. Can’t wait to see what you do.

      • Thanks so much Michael – I appreciate all your advice! – xericstyle

  3. Your daughter is adorable. I don’t know frogfruit. Will have to do some research on it. Good luck with the bermuda eradication. I wish that stuff had never been created!

    • Thanks- she is pretty sweet…I think I’ll keep her. xo – The bermuda is gone now…but I just know some will sprout. GRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrr – xericstyle

  4. Can’t wait to see your backyard plans!

  5. Desert Dweller

    Poor Bermudagrass…not! But I like your Frogfruit option the most, instead of other alt lawngrasses, and your public area example makes sense. Negative space…oh yeah!

    • Thanks David! I’ll keep you posted :) – xericstyle

  6. Great minds must think alike because I’m obsessed with Frogfruit;) I would like to use it as a ground cover under a large Cedar Elm tree in my backyard. I admire its toughness since I see it growing along streets and highways. The blooms are so cute and the fact it attracts butterflies – Bonus! Have a great weekend.

    • Right on Steph! Keep me updated please :) -xericstyle

  7. Linda

    Updated pictures on your frogfruit? I life in California and am wondering if I can replace my drought stricken lawn with this? Where can I purchase it? I’m not finding it online except at Annie’s Annuals and they are quite expensive.

    • a

      Hi. We live in So Cal and recently replaced our back lawn with frogfruit. Size apx. 30×20. The veteran’s garden in West LA used to carry it but they are gone now, so we ended up ordering from Annie’s. The veteran’s garden was part of the grow native nursery out of Claremont – perhaps they carry it; it’s called phyla nodiflora. We bought 12 units (4″ pots) and spaced them evenly in the area back in July. If we had been willing to wait longer and are weed the bare areas regularly, we could have gotten away with 4 – 6 units. We now have 85% coverage (in our yard it grows more slowly where it gets more sun). We have two dogs and so far the frogfruit is holding up to the dog urine very well (rarely a spot will brown but it repairs itself very quickly). The dogs have created a little path on their run from the dog door to the side of the house that might bother some people but I just look at my water bill and smile. It is pretty soft underfoot (I think we water it a bit too much but still much less than the former lawn) and is very green. Summer brought out tons of little white flowers that the bees went crazy over – we plan on lopping them off with a reel mower next season if we have company with kids playing in the yard and want to minimize the chances of stings. Note that the area we planted is fully contained so the frogfruit cannot invade other areas. It is a determined, but not aggressive grower – I image you could manage it with 2x a month snipping of any reaching branches.

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