Is there a better alternative to grass for your Kauai commercial landscape? You might be wondering this if you’re dealing with a lawn that is not thriving despite your best efforts to care for it.
We understand how frustrating it can be to invest time and money into your property and not get the results you desire. (Many clients come to us with this complaint!)
Here’s the good news: Rather than pouring resources into grass that doesn’t want to “behave,” we suggest taking a good, hard look at the microclimate of your property. Grass just doesn’t grow easily everywhere on Kauai: In some cases, ground cover can be a better answer.
This article will take a look at grass vs ground cover and help you decide what’s a more viable option for your Kauai property.
Sunny Spots: Go For Grass
The warm-season grasses that thrive in Kauai need at least four to six hours of sunlight to survive—the more sun, the better. If the area of your landscape receives ample sun exposure, then grass very well might be the best option for the space.
Specifically, Bermudagrass will require full sun for most of the day. Other warm-season grasses can tolerate varying degrees of shade, and those include: centipedegrass, seashore paspalum, St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass. Of these species, zoysiagrass is the most shade tolerant.
It’s important to select the grass variety that best suits the conditions on your property — and care for it properly, of course.
Grass Vs Ground Cover For Shade
Geography plays a significant role in the plant choices we make for properties. Naturally, southern-facing properties tend to soak in more sunlight, and could very well support a lush lawn. On the other hand, if your Kauai property points north, you’ll get less full sun exposure and slightly cooler temperatures. Every degree of heat and hour of sun makes a difference in the survival of grass and ground cover.
We advice north-facing properties to consider ground cover that can tolerate shady conditions. Philodendron, mondo grass and pothos are vine-type ground covers that will grow well in the shade.
Shade Between Taller Buildings
The man-made shade created by tall buildings can limit your ability to grow grass effectively. And when grass does not get enough sunlight, weeds quickly fill into the space and are difficult, if not impossible, to control. Rather than fighting Mother Nature, we advise choosing a shade-tolerant ground cover for areas in between or around buildings, where a shadow is cast over the space for extended periods of time during the day.
There are several types of ferns that grow well in the shade, and they can add texture and height to landscape bed that receives mostly shade. Ferns also provide a natural, tropical feel, which is attractive to many Kauai property owners.
Underneath Large TreesThis is a bit of a wild card: If you're looking for a material for underneath large trees, choose mulch.
Beautiful banyan and eucalyptus trees can create large, shaded rings on your property that are a true reprieve on a hot day. But forget growing grass underneath them. There just isn’t enough sunlight in those spaces. Rather than planting a ground cover right up against trees—you don’t want plants to compete with the tree for water and soil nutrients—why not choose mulch for this space?
Mulch provides a neat, manicured look, helps prevent weed growth and will keep moisture in the soil near the tree. We always make sure that mulch is not piled up against the trunk. There should be several inches of clearance to allow air to reach the trunk. (Think of a donut shape.)
Mulch is truly the only low-maintenance ground cover on Kauai, because very plant here requires care. Whether you choose grass or ground cover, regular landscape maintenance is critical to ensure that plants have the nutrients to weather Kauai’s dramatic climate.
If you’re considering a change in you Kauai commercial landscape, we encourage you to call us for a comprehensive property assessment. We’ll take stock of what’s thriving and where the landscape could use improvements, whether maintaining grass or opting for ground cover in shady spaces.
Call us any time at (808)335-5887, or fill out our simple web contact form and we’ll get in touch with you!
Image credits: St. Augustine grass, eucalyptus tree