En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Wet & Shade in South Austin

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

Saturday - February 19, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Wet & Shade in South Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants - I live in south Austin (S. of Ben White) in a new development. Our houses are fairly close together, so there's little sun between them. The issue is that when it does rain, the ground is completely saturated and there is standing water which takes a while to drain. Sometimes the water is like a baby river. I'd like to replace the grass with ground cover that can be walked on and doesn't need mowing. Stepping stones might be ok. There is irrigation, but after it is used, the ground is really wet. The bottom line is we need something that will handle shade, wet, and dry. Thanks

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants would like you to check with your builder and tell him about your problem with standing water. That would certainly not be good for your foundation; they should have arranged for drainage away from the house.  Perhaps a french drain might help, but that's as far as my building expertise goes.

Barring drainage fixes, we can still recommend some plants that might survive such a challenging environment.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) is a ground cover that is very forgiving under most circumstances.  Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) is another groundcover that is very adaptable.  Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) is a grass that can take shade and another attractive plant, similar to grass, is Carex texensis (Texas sedge),

                    
Carex texensis
                    Chasmanthium latifolium             Calyptocarpus vialis

 Shrubs or low plants that will give some color are Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine), the red or yellow variety; Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry), a shrub; Viola sororia (Missouri violet); Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern); another shrub would be Malvaviscus arboreus (Turkscap).  Slightly taller plants include Physostegia virginiana (Fall obedient plant) and even Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto).

                      
Physostegia virginiana
          Thelypteris kunthii                 Aquilegia canadensis

  You may enjoy reading links to some similar questions that have been asked: Rain garden for South Austin  [appears to be quite similar to your situation!],  Evergreen shrub for part shade in AustinTexas natives that are shade tolerant for Austin, TX, Need plants with red flowers to grow in shaded area in yard in Austin.

All the best for a good fix for your situation!    MSP

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native alterrnatives for Bermuda grass in shade
July 30, 2007 - I have Bermuda Tif 419 on my lawn. As expected, there are small areas in the shade that the Bermuda is not doing well in. What would happen if I spread Zoysia seed in those shady areas? Would it gro...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for dry shade in North Central Texas
March 09, 2008 - I live in North Central Texas and have an area that is 80% shade and a dry soil condition. What native grasses would be suitable for this location?
view the full question and answer

Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
December 10, 2012 - Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows w...
view the full question and answer

Natives for a raised, part-shade bed in Pearland TX
March 29, 2010 - I have a couple of raised beds that I want to plant a few shrubs (3 feet tall), perennials, and annuals. I want all the plants to be native to Texas. The only problem is that I am not plant knowledgea...
view the full question and answer

Saving or transplanting stand of white trillium that has lost shade
May 29, 2006 - We have a generous stand of white trillium that has been under the shade of a white oak for many years. Now the 100+ year old oak has died and the trilliums are in the sun. Are we in danger of losin...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center