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?


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

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

Shrub for shade in Austin, Texas.
March 27, 2009 - Live in Austin, Texas and need to plant a shrub or plant that will grow well in little to no sun. Can grow 4 feet in height
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Screen plants for part shade in Smithville, TX
February 23, 2010 - Thank you very much for your reply to my question about planting bamboo. I had no idea it was so invasive. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for me. My goal is to provide a soft an...
view the full question and answer

Correct cultural conditions for liatris
April 15, 2008 - I recently bought some gayfeather (liatris pycnostachya) and planted in my yard in a nice full sun spot. Gets sun for roughly 10 hours a day. However, it's also the single driest spot in my yard (jus...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center