Mailbox Your letters, photos, questions
Ann Purcell, Ettalong, NSW
DERYN THORPE SAYS There are a number of good turf alternatives you could consider for this situation. Creeping boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium, above right) is an extremely tough native plant that copes well with hot, dry, exposed conditions. A low, dense spreader that suppresses weeds, it features very fine, green leaves (there is also a purple-leafed form) and white or pink flowers that are attractive to birds and butterflies.
Equally tough in dry, sandy soils is Eremophila glabra ‘Roseworthy’, with its small bright-green leaves and pretty orange-red blooms that the birds love. ‘Blue Horizon’ is another low-growing, dense form of E. glabra and features attractive blue-green foliage with yellow tubular blooms in winter. There are a few prostrate grevilleas worth considering, and Grevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ (above left) is probably the best of these. It’s a very dense groundcover with attractive toothed leaves, coppery-red new growth and red toothbrush flowers in spring. Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’ is another native to check out. Its foliage is beautifully textured, and is reminiscent of coral. The new growth starts out red and then fades to green along the many stems, creating a remarkably colourful effect.
Do keep in mind, while these spreading alternatives are drought-hardy and pretty, they grow a little taller than your average strip of mown grass and only take minimal foot traffic. Good old turf is always the most reliable plant choice where people need to walk regularly, or, for a no-mowing option, you could create a permanent pathway of pavers or large stepping pads and surround them with one or more of the groundcovers suggested.
Also, while many councils are happy to have lawn substitutes on verges, most have regulations concerning the height of plants, and adequate and safe access for pedestrians, so follow this up with your local council before making any decisions.