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?

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
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

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

Shade tolerant plant for Rodeo, California
November 02, 2008 - I live in Rodeo, California and I need to know what is a good green plant I can get to place in a shady area
view the full question and answer

Philadelphus ernestii under live oak in Pflugerville TX
April 05, 2010 - Will Philadelphus ernestii thrive in the root zone of live oak, or would the oak inhibit its growth? I'd like to plant it just at the edge of the canopy.
view the full question and answer

Prairie wattle for woodland area in Austin
November 29, 2009 - Can prairie wattle be grown in a woodland area? It would get part shade, with full sun for at least half a day. The soil is a bit rocky; location is Austin.
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae thinning in Bucks County, PA
April 09, 2010 - My arborvitae trees are about 11 ft. tall. I had them put in about 3 years ago. They were 8 to 10 ft. when planted. After the first year, I have noticed they are thinning to the point where you can se...
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtle or cherry laurel in Austin?
November 15, 2009 - For a very shady area under a large old oak tree with oak toxic soil, would a Wax Myrtle or a Cherry Laurel (caroliniana) be better? Looking for an evergreen screening tree up to 20ft, but it only get...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center