Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

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!

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

Nimblewill grass for a shady area in Dallas
April 04, 2013 - i have a very shady backyard and reading some of your post I think Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) will survive. Two questions: Is it drought resistant? Where can I buy the seeds?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow under pine trees in Riverside, CA
October 15, 2014 - Please tell me what plants would do well under pine trees in somewhat moist soil in Riverside, Ca. Also, I would prefer perennials that are easy to weed. (I currently have violets which are overrun wi...
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

What to plant between patio flagstones in Austin, TX?
May 16, 2011 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on the patio. Something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little to moderate traffic. It is in a shade to partly...
view the full question and answer

Non-poisonous trees to shade horse pasture in Leesville SC
February 07, 2011 - Please list NON-poisonous trees for horses in South Carolina. I would live to plant a few trees along the fence of my horse pasture and in my horse pasture for shade.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.