Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Bee-attracting vine for shade from St. Paul MN
June 02, 2011 - I need a vine for shade that attracts bees. I am in Minnesota, zone 4a. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Grass for dense shade in Simpsonville SC
May 12, 2010 - We live in Simpsonville, SC. Our back yard leads back into very dense woods. It is extremely shady, virtually no direct sun for any length of time. We have a hard time growing grass here. What type of...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant part shade plants for Austin:
March 28, 2010 - What evergreen shrubs would you recommend for a partly-shaded area, next to a wall, which can be trimmed to keep their shape and height (for symmetry)..this is for a front gate to a community, so we n...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with wildflowers in shade in Maryland
January 11, 2008 - I'm an old White House Correspondent who covered LBJ as well as Mrs Johnson and knew and admired her. I visited the Wildflower Center with her on one occasion. I hope you will forward this to an appr...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
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.