En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover for sun/part shade in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Southwest Austin and I have a small backyard that has part sun/part shade. I have no grass in the backyard and my soil is not the healthiest, so I would like to plant some groundcover versus lawn. Can you recommend a short groundcover that can take minimal foot traffic? and do you think I still have time to plant this spring? Thanks!


It is really on the late side to expect anything to come up from seeds, but bedding plants will probably still work. Local nurseries that carry native plants (see our National Suppliers Directory for a listing) should have at least some of these in stock.

One of the sedges would make a good groundcover. They have the advantage of being evergreen and will take moderate traffic.

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

These next two plants are semi-evergreen, depending on the winter temperatures.

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

Carex cherokeensis

Carex planostachys

Carex texensis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora



More Shade Tolerant Questions

Partial shade plants for underneath ash tree in Tarrant County, Texas
April 20, 2011 - I have a BIG Ash Tree in my front yard that blocks out most afternoon sun. I generally get morning and evening sun. I am looking for something to plant around the base of the tree so my yard doesn'...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Plants for Dry Shade in Manor, Texas
January 14, 2011 - What deer resistant blooming plants will do well under a huge oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Variety of native tall plants for a screen in shady area near Ft. Worth
June 12, 2007 - Hello, we live west of Ft Worth. We are looking for tall plants to form a visual screen along a chain link fence we share with a neighbor. We have post oaks there and it is very shady and the ground ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under Oak Trees in LA.
March 05, 2013 - What type of plants and grass can be planted under and around oak trees
view the full question and answer

Plants for a condo garden in Decatur GA
February 12, 2009 - I recently moved into a condo in Decatur (just outside Atlanta). I am now working on the back yard - just a patio and dirt right now. It is a small space and is shaded much of the day but does get s...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center