Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Frogfruit lawn for Foliage Follow-up – September 2013

My Texas frogfruit “lawn” is demonstrating our long hot summer.  In areas where it gets a tiny bit of shade it is lush and lovely, and in full sun areas, it is crispy.  Perhaps if I cared for it better…watered it more…planted it differently, it would have been more successful as a lawn for us.  Bottom line, I am just not that into it, FOR THE DESIRED APPLICATION I had in mind.  I’ll let you be the judge….Texas frogfruitIn this area it gets a tiny bit of shade and is lush and quite thick. Horseherb and frogfruitMixed densely with horseherb it also looks wonderful.Crispy frogfruitIn areas that get baked, the frogfruit has held on with much neglect (I have not watered it :( ….and traffic, but it does not look good.   I anticipate it will come back fuller this fall, but I have too many other weeds mixed in, and ultimately, I did not prep properly.  If I could turn back time, I would have put compost and/or mulch around the plants, spread a pre-emergent like corn gluten on the entire planting area to suppress/prevent weeds from sprouting, and watered more.  I have a decade old weed issue in this yard, and the other very important lesson I learned, is a weed lawn adjacent granite pathways, was not a good choice.  DUH! ;)  I think, although I HATE to say it, sod would have been a better choice, and is something I am currently thinking about as the hubby is still not budging on a green space to run around on.  We are also considering putting the house on the market in the future, and a small grass area would be a good choice for that.

Frogfruit is an incredible plant, and I think this would have worked super well, had I done it right!   But unfortunately, I am feeling overwhelmed, and over it. :(



  1. I admire you for trying. And I admire your honesty in evaluting it’s success. :)

    • I really appreciate that, Abbey, thank you. – xericstyle

  2. I considered just about everything I did at our “starter home” (where we stayed for 20 years!) an experiment. Now, at our hopefully “forever” home, I’m still experimenting because the conditions here are so different even if the houses are geographically close. Experiments are how we learn and life doesn’t always allow perfection on the 1st pass. Interestingly, I was told that my old garden (much smaller than yours) sold the house but, despite that, I’m willing to bet that the buyers pulled out a lot of my lawn-less backyard and put in sod…

    • You have my wheels turning, Kris…I don’t want to give up too easy! It is a great plant! Thanks for sharing…everything in my life seems to be an experiment too! :) -xericstyle

  3. Heather, this sort of honest appraisal is SO useful for others who are exploring their options for lawn alternatives. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you really think it was a lack of prepping that led to the crispiness, or just the stress of drought and heat of a Texas summer? A lot of natives look pretty darn ugly this time of year (one peek at the greenbelt says it all), essentially going brown and dormant until the fall rains come (if they come). Have you explored the idea of artificial grass for this one smallish area?

    • Thanks mentor :) You know…when I really think about it, I think it was a lack of prepping that led to other weeds taking over. Anytime things got water the other weeds seemed to explode so I was trying to let the stronger survive to knock out the undesireables. Which…the frogfruit did outsurvive a lot of the other weeds. I just got in this horrible cycle. If I prepped properly, and applied pre-emergent at planting time, I feel I could have watered away, and the frogfruit would have been LOVING it and would likely have been thick, wonderful, and all that was out there. In a perfect world at least, I think that would have happened. I have considered the artificial grass, they have it at my daughters school, and it is wonderful. Not sure I have wrapped my head around that though…- xericstyle

  4. I have followed this experiment closey and I’m really sorry this didn’t work for you; maybe given give to establish well it could have worked. If you’d watered it a little it would have been a lot less water than a lawn needs. I still think frog fruit could be a valid option. Did your kids actually play on it? I wondered if the pollinators would actually have been an issue with kids getting stung.

    • There still could be a chance it could work….if it fills in super well this fall and out competes the “other” weeds….
      My kids did not play on it as much as I hoped…I did see bees and butterflies…no one got stung. I do think this could work well, IF someone prepped properly…as in, did the compost mulch thing around the plants to suppress weeds. I didn’t right away like I should have, we got over a week of rain, and without a word of a lie, it was full of thick weeds, like overnight. I also would have put down pre-emergent like corn gluten upon planting. SO YES, could have worked well, but I didn’t do it like I should have. -xericstyle

  5. I remembered frogfruit nostalgically from my Houston childhood, so planted it as lawn in San Diego. What I didn’t consider about it was that the flowers would attract bees, and also I think I had similar problems to yours in unevenness. So I ended up eradicating it and planting grass. I would love to have a grassless yard now, grass is my biggest weed problem.

    • Thanks for sharing, Hannah. It makes me feel so supported. :) -xericstyle

  6. I so understand! Even my horseherb is pretty dead (though it will return) and I have wide cracks in an area we never water. My frogfruit isn’t the happiest camper either, thanks to heat and little moisture. But some little insects were all over its flowers this this weekend. Even our natives are totally miserable right now, and the bit of grass I have looks great! Go figure, huh. But keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Linda, I needed that! Gardeners unite! :) -xericstyle

  7. Ruthie

    I have horseherb under my trees, it looked rather sad all summer except when I watered it on accident (watering a plant nearby) but look lush and beautiful again now, but in the sun, the bermuda grass does well enough that I think it’d be a shame to pull it and try for something else. The plants seem to have reached this equilibrium on their own, so who I am to judge? :-)

    What I was thinking when I saw your “ugly” photo was of the man who designed paved paths through the university by allowing students to walk where ever they needed to over turf, then where ever the turf died he put a paved path since he knew thats exactly where it was needed. Maybe your yard is telling you this area needs to be a soft, friendly for bare feet, mulched play area?

    • I really like the way you think Ruthie :) Letting nature be…. I have been thinking about paths a lot too…but the hubby really wants a green area. Kiddies mostly ride there bikes and explore, but they are getting older and I am sure hubby envisions throwing a ball, etc. I think it will become clearer as time goes on. But I am with you! :) – xericstyle

  8. hello, I’ve found reading your post and the many comments very interesting, like another commenter grass is my most prolific weed and loves the moist temperate climate I live in, wish I could send you some of our rain! I’m afraid I can not offer any suggestions as I have no experience of growing in a hot, dry climate, but can add that in the 11 years I’ve been gardening I’ve learnt a lot through my mistakes and it still goes on, I think we all do including many of the ‘experts’, I wish you success eventually, Frances

    • Awe – thank you for your sentiments, Frances :) Learning and growing….growing and learning…never ends….Thank G-d! :) -xericstyle

  9. Or…..maybe you discovered it’s use is best as a background plant, or as something that needs other plants in it to intermingle, and fill in the gaps, during your hot *and* humid uber-summer? Moving…say it isn’t so!

    • Mostly…I think I learned I did it wrong :( I do think it could work if prepped correctly. Moving….no time soon….but always a possibility. – xericstyle

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