En EspaŅol

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
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

Wednesday - May 25, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Sun requirement for native turf grasses
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What are the sun requirements needed for the native grass seed mix you recently released? I have a pretty well shaded back yard. Will this stuff grow well in this condition?

ANSWER:

All three grasses in the mix—Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass)—require full sun.  They might grow a bit in partial shade but they won't be the dense turf to make a good lawn.  Unfortunately, there aren't any native turf grasses that will do well in the shade.  We can suggest taller, yet still attractive, grasses that tolerate and even do well in partial shade such as Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye), Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill), Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) and Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

As a substitute for native turf grass in shady areas you might consider sedges (Carex spp.).  Many of them are evergreen, grow well in the shade, require little water, don't grow too high and require little mowing.  Here is an article, Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape, that you might find useful and here is a list of sedges that do well in the Austin area:

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

 Carex perdentata (Meadow sedge)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

You might consider planting other groundcovers to go with the sedges such as Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) and Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit).  They are both semi-evergreen (depending on the severity of the winter) and will stand up to moderate foot traffic after they are established.

You can find nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Austin area where you might find the sedges and groundcovers by searching in our National Suppliers Directory.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Nimblewill
Muhlenbergia schreberi

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Meadow sedge
Carex perdentata

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Winter care of native perennials in Austin
October 19, 2008 - Last spring I planted some wildflowers suggested by Deryn Davidson. they did extremely well. I planted-Gulf Muhly,Big Muhly,Red Yucca,Purple Cone Flower,Wine Cup, Large Buttercup And Mealy Blue sage, ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a garden in Panama City, FL
May 10, 2013 - I live in zone 9 in Florida. We are looking for plants which will be attractive all year long for the front of our house's landscaping which faces north. I need a specimen bush which doesn't get ov...
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive sandburs in Austin
May 05, 2014 - My attempts to control / eradicate Sanbur with pre-emergent corn gluten twice yeary for the last three years have been unsuccessful. My post emergent pulling weeds for 15 years has also been unsucces...
view the full question and answer

Plants for hanging flower boxes from Austin
July 27, 2013 - I have two long flower boxes 17" x 15" x 25 feet long one on the north side of the apt and one on the south made of metal suspended about four feet from the ground. One will get the morning sun and ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for wildlife in Katrina recovery area of Louisiana
June 21, 2009 - I live in La in an area decimated by Katrina and want to establish 11 acres of wildlife friendly native short grasses. It is partly designated wetlands because it floods, but also has long periods wi...
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