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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 24, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Native groundcovers to replace non-native St. Augustine
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in west Travis County just south of Lake Austin. My backyard is very shady and does not drain well. I want to spend some time and effort landscaping it. I have thought about Amerishade St. Augustine grass in some areas. Do you have suggestions for plants or ground cover in the areas that are mostly shady? I would be particularly interested in anything that would work well near the St Augustine.

ANSWER:

Because St. Augustine grass required much more irrigation than other grasses, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not recommend its use at all. While it is more shade-tolerant than many other grasses, there are native groundcovers that may work better for you in the long run and require much less water. Shade-loving native groundcovers you might consider are: Straggler daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis), Texas sedge (Carex texensis), and Cedar sedge (Carex planostachys). Some other shade-loving native plants are Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Red Columbine, (Aquilegia canadensis), Cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana), and Heart-leaf Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata).
 

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