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?


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

Monday - September 21, 2009

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


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?


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





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Part sun and part shade
October 19, 2004 - What is the difference between part sun and part shade?
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Plants to replace Polygonum cuspidatum ( Japanese knotweed)
August 10, 2013 - I live in a heavily wooed area of Chippewa Falls, WI. Our property is covered with Giant Japanese Knot Weed. We have been trying to get rid of it for years. We are finally going to try using the dr...
view the full question and answer

Lawn for a Shady & Wet area in Austin, TX
July 22, 2015 - We have a drainage area that has appeared in our back yard since the neighbors’ homes were built. When we get heavy rains (like this year) all their drainage flows into our back yard and forms a river...
view the full question and answer

Native shade plants around fountain in California
March 18, 2009 - Hi, we just put a fountain in our front yard. It is in a mostly shady area. I need to know what plants would go best around the fountain and survive in the shade.
view the full question and answer

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