Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Reseeding a dead lawn in Wimberley TX
February 07, 2012 - Our new house had a sodded lawn that now appears dead. There remains a layer of sandy soil as a part of the sodding process. Is there a way to reseed these existing slabs of sod and what process wo...
view the full question and answer

Shade plants for a childrens garden in Magnolia, TX
June 21, 2009 - What shade plants would be good to plant in a Children's garden at a learning center?
view the full question and answer

Plants for dry shade in West Virginia
April 22, 2010 - I live in Mannington, WV and I am wanting to do some landscaping. The area that I would like to plant in is very dry and gets little to no sunlight. I would like to plant something that will come back...
view the full question and answer

Shade tree for El Paso, Texas
May 18, 2010 - hi there, I am looking to plant a shade tree in front of my house, about 10ft away from my house and about 6ft away from the sidewalk. I live in El Paso TX and I am afraid that the tree roots will int...
view the full question and answer

Wet & Shade in South Austin
February 19, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants - I live in south Austin (S. of Ben White) in a new development. Our houses are fairly close together, so there's little sun between them. The issue is that when it does rain, ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.