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

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Monday - September 21, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native grasses for shade for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just read with interest your article on multi-species native lawns. However, I believe the suggested grasses don't grow well in the shade, is this true. Are there any suggestions for native (multi-species) lawns that will do well in shade?

ANSWER:

You are correct, the native grasses suitable for Central Texas and for lawns that can be mowed are all sun lovers, and will not prosper in shade. There are, however, ornamental grasses that do very well in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or shade (2 hours of sun). These are not, however, grasses to be mowed down into the kind of lawns homeowner's associations mandate.

Native American Seed, in Junction, TX specializes in seeds and seed mixes for Texas and surrounding areas. You can go to their home page and then click on "Shop for Seeds;" in that dropdown list click on "Grass Mixes." On that page are several grasses suitable for different uses, select "Shade-Friendly Grass Mixes."  This provides a list of shade-friendly grasses, all of which are appropriate for Central Texas. However, they are not all necessarily appropriate for an urban yard, so we would suggest you buy packets of the individual seeds, instead of the mix. The ones we like for yards, used in a meadow setting, or even as a hedge along a sidewalk are:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Follow the links to the pages on each grass in our Native Plant Database for more information.

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Elymus virginicus

 

 

 

 

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