I have written a bit about my favorite ground cover, maní (perennial peanut), which is now blooming in profusion in the Arenal area. Why? Well, those long roots make it perfect for hilly areas. But what if you have a nice flat area to plant, what then?
Well, the first question is: “Do I want ground cover or a lawn?” Good question. Lawns have to be planted by seed or by sod. They have to be tended. They have to be cut. For the most part, if you have shade, they aren’t going to grow well. They also need worms. I have seen lovely dark soil here that has no worms. It seems there isn’t enough for them to eat, which I find very odd. But perhaps you very much want a real lawn. What is best?
If your lawn is for looking at and not playing on, there are a number of grasses that do well here. Please understand that if you are living in the drier parts of the country where the dry season really is dry, I would never ever suggest that you try to maintain a lawn. If you have a house on the northwest coast, try a pattern of different colored small stones, perhaps a boulder or two and some nice succulents. If you have difficulty picturing the result, check out pictures of Japanese gardens.
In areas with decent year-round moisture, pick a grass for your rainfall and your traffic conditions. We have a wide choice of grasses. Some of the best are: St. Augustine (general purpose, low traffic), carpet grass (axonopus, coarse, tolerates high traffic), siglap grass (a type of zoysia with dense growth), and centipede (low traffic, creeping).
Having decided on your lawn, you need to turn your attention to those shady areas because if you don’t, you will find that we have weeds that are quite happy in those areas. They will start out there and creep into your lawn at the first opportunity. You could, of course, opt for letting your lawn curl around the shade while you head out every few days to pull out those weeds before they can take over. This can be a reasonable option for areas without heavy rainfall, but when those big storms hit, you are going to have trouble. Without a cover of some sort, you will find that soil washes away from the roots, leaving them exposed.