Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Kurapia Groundcover Instead of Grass

Kurapia in bloom at the Hancock Park home of Janet and Michael Soffer.

When Hancock Park resident Janet Soffer saw an installation of Kurapia at a nearby home on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days, she was inspired to plant it in your own garden.

Soffer, like many local residents, was looking for a grass-like ground cover that needed less water than a traditional lawn. She wanted something that would tolerate light traffic from her grandchildren and dog but would still look appropriate in her formal garden originally designed by architect William Heffner, a friend and former neighbor.

View of the Kurapia from the house.
View of the Kurapia from the pool.

Nearly two years later, the Kurapia she planted looks wonderful. It only needs to be watered once a week. Soffer planted the Kurapia on both sides of the walkway that bisects the backyard and is lined with westringia along the walkway with a podocarpus hedge along the edge with fruit trees tucked in. The garden is densely planted with something happening nearly everywhere yet it’s a calm, mostly green, functional yard.

An apricot tree along the edge of the podocarpus hedge.

Kurapia was developed in Japan by H. Kuramochi and was perfected at Utsunomiya University. Kurapia is a patented plant bred from a variety of Phyla that grows natively in Japan. It’s not grass, it’s actually in the very hardy Verbenaceae family, which is known for deep taproots and longevity. In fact, it’s those deep taproots that make it so drought-tolerant. The plant stores water in its vascular tissue, enabling it to survive drought spells and it holds water reserves much longer than grasses. Kurapia has been tested by researchers at UC Riverside and UC Davis.

Kurapia grows horizontally by rooting along the stem.

There are two varieties of Kurapia, pink and white. Both produce small clover-like flowers that are attractive to pets and pollinators. They are completely non-toxic and can tolerate animal urine.

Since it’s a patented plant, it can only be purchased as plugs. It is sold online to individuals and landscape professionals. One flat contains 72 plugs and costs about $173. Each plug is 3″ tall x 1.5″ wide and one flat will cover approximately 97 square feet.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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