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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.

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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.

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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!

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Monday - July 12, 2010

From: Lake Charles, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Need mowable ground cover for shady area under trees in Lake Charles, LA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I live in Southwest Louisiana. I have a large portion of my back yard that is very shady because I have large trees in the yard. The area dries up fairly quickly after a heavy rain, so it isn't extremely moist. Nothing really grows there though. I really want some sort of groundcover that I can mow and that my son can walk on. I'm just tired of looking at a yard that is half grass and half dirt. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

You didn't mention the kind of trees or the type of soil that you have in your yard. Both of these factors can influence the kinds of plants that will grow there.

The following is a list of plants that are considered groundcovers that can grow in shady conditions. 

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) grows less than 1 foot high. Can be mowed

Geum canadense (white avens) grows from 4 inches to over 3 feet, but can be mowed.  It is evergreen if watered in summer.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) grows 3 to 4 inches high and is evergreen to dormant in winter.

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) grows 4 to 18 inches or more, but can be mowed and is evergreen if watered in summer.

Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort) grows 3 inches to 2 feet but can be mowed and is evergreen. 

Clicking on the name of the plant will bring up its NPIN page which has infromation about the plant's characteristics, growing conditions and photos.


Calyptocarpus vialis

Geum canadense

Phyla nodiflora

Salvia lyrata

Packera obovata

 



 

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