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

Tuesday - July 01, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native grasses for bare shady spot in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My back yard is shady from old Arizona Ash trees. What native grasses can I plant in bare areas caused by my dog?


The first thing we need to ask you is: Will the dog still be causing bare areas? We can recommend a number of really nice native grasses that will do well in the shade, and are low maintenance, but few of them are very tolerant of foot, er, paw traffic. So, we're going to give you two lists-one of the grasses, and one of lower, somewhat more traffic-tolerant, ground covers. Anything newly planted is going to need a chance to get established, so if the dog is still going to be working the same path, don't waste your time and money putting in new plants. You might consider, instead, paths of mulch, pine needles or even decomposed granite. It will still get scattered, but can be raked back into place.


Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. tall

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) - 3 to 12 in. tall

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - 10 to 18 in. tall

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft. tall


Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot) - 3 to 4 in. tall

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) - 6 go 12 in. tall

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow) - 8 to 12 in. tall

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) - high climbing or trailing vine

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua hirsuta

Chasmanthium latifolium

Dichondra argentea

Calyptocarpus vialis

Callirhoe involucrata

Parthenocissus quinquefolia





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
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

Privacy shrub in part shade to shade in Austin
April 29, 2010 - Barbara Medford's July 1, 2008 reply regarding Little Emperor Japanese Blueberry Tree is exactly my experience with cherry laurel in partial sun/shaded area in Austin, Texas. For 6 - 8' height si...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for shade in Southern California
May 11, 2012 - Flowering climbing plant for shade in Palm Desert, CA.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Austin thicket underlayer
July 25, 2014 - We live in Austin, west of 183. We are planning to put a thicket in our backyard, where there is no threat of deer. Anchoring the thicket are a clump of live oaks, a Texas persimmon, an Eve's Necklac...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center