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Mr. Smarty Plants - Shade-loving Grass for the Houston area

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Wednesday - February 09, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade-loving Grass for the Houston area
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have an ash tree that completely shades the majority of our front yard and is not allowing the St. Augustine grass to grow. Is there a shade-loving grass good for the Houston area?

ANSWER:

Sure! - Although it depends on how serious you are on the request for a grass.

Several very similar questions have been posed.  Somebody in Houston wanted "Plants for shade".  Here is a link to that answerChasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), which is recommended there, is a lovely grass but is 2-4 ft. high. Most of the rest of the plants mentioned in this answer are shrubs or higher.  Another recommended grass is Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass).  This is also lovely, but runs 3-8 ft. high. You might want to consider a combination of inland seaoats, and Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage), that grows well in shade.  It has lovely red flowers that attract hummingbirds and is easy to care for. 

Here is another similar discussion, where the question was about grasses in Montgomery County  [Just to the North of Houston]. That discussion recommended buffalograss.  In general, buffalograss does not grow very well in shade.  Native American Seed, a Wildflower Center associate, has a buffalograss that they claim to be shade tolerant.

                   
Salvia coccinea
                Sorghastrum nutans                   Chasmanthium latifolium

I'm suspecting you may want a ground cover, or at least something a bit lower.  This previous question/answer pair applies specifically to ground covers.  I have Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) in my own lawn in Austin and it does decently in partial shade.  Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) also works really well in this kind of application.

            
Calyptocarpus vialis                    Phyla nodiflora

 

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