En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - January 11, 2009

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Grasses for yard in part shade and shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a shady yard with no grass whatsoever in San Marcos, TX. Since there are no roots to anchor the soil, the air (and the house) is full of dust. I want to plant a native grass that does well in filtered sun to full shade, but it is a rental property (I plan on being here for another 2 years), so I am looking for the least-cost type.

ANSWER:

The grasses Mr. Smarty Plants can recommend for part shade (2-6 hours of sun per day) and shade (<2 hours of sun per day) aren't going to be turf grasses, but they are attractive and will certainly anchor the soil and can be grown from seed—the most economical option.  These are:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada or prairie wildrye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

You can find seeds of these grasses for sale at Native American Seed in Junction, Texas. You can also search for other seed companies and nurseries that specialize in native plants of your area in our National Suppliers Directory.

For an alternative to grasses, you might consider sedges.  They have the advantage of being evergreen and not growing very tall. However, they have the disadvantage of not generally being available as seeds, but as small plants instead—a more expensive option.  They will spread from the ones that are planted.  You can read more about using sedges for your lawn in John Greenlee's Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape.

Here are two recommended species:

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Carex perdentata (sand sedge)

Still another option is to use a groundcover that isn't grass or grass-like.  You could use a groundcover alone or in combination with each other and/or the grasses. Here are a few suggestions:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot)

Rivina humilis (pigeonberry)

Stemodia lanata (gray-woolly twintip)

Most of the plants listed above will be for sale at the Wildflower Center's Spring Plant Sale that occurs in April.


Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Elymus virginicus

Carex texensis

Carex perdentata

Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

Dichondra argentea

Rivina humilis

Stemodia lanata

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX shade
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin, TX. I'm looking for a 4 season shrub for a partially shaded area that gets about 3 hours of sun towards the evening. It's mostly partially shaded.
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Georgetown with shade in the AM and sun in the PM
September 30, 2015 - Hi, I live in Georgetown and I would like a recommendation for plants (shrubs and flowering perennials) that can handle deep shade until 1 or 2 pm and then have full sun blasting them til sun down. T...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for part shade in Austin
September 21, 2010 - I am planning a pocket prairie on the north side of my house. Where I am struggling is finding an evergreen shrub that will grow about 6-8', be native and provide semi-privacy in front of a bedroom ...
view the full question and answer

Shade, Heat, Drought and Acidic Soil Tolerant Perennials for Las Vegas?
November 28, 2015 - What can I grow under my pine trees that is shade and heat (and acidity) tolerant? I live in Las Vegas, NV and would like perennials to plant under my pine trees.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center