En EspaÑol

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
1 rating

Wednesday - May 25, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Native turf grasses for shady lawn
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am interested in planting a native lawn using the grasses discussed on the website (2lb of buffalograss, 1½ lb of bluegrama and at least 4 oz of curly mesquite). My front yard is relatively small with two 10 year old live oak trees that cast shade over the yard. Will this native mix work in my front yard? Also, I have two small children who play constantly in the yard. Will the grass do well with this foot traffic?

ANSWER:

The native turf grasses, buffalograss, curly mesquite and blue grama, discussed in Native Lawns: Multi-species will withstand moderate foot traffic after they have become established, but they don't do well in as much shade as you probably have in your yard.   Unless the grasses receive at least 6 hours sun per day they will not thrive to become a thick turf lawn.  The bad news is that there aren't really any native turf grasses that do well in shade.  The closest you can come is sedges, perhaps combined with other groundcovers.   Although sedges don't generally withstand foot traffic quite as well as turf grass, they do have the advantage of being evergreen, grow in the shade and require little mowing.  You might be interested in reading the following article, Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape.  Here are a few that do well in the Austin area:

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

 Carex perdentata (Meadow sedge)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Some possibilities for other groundcovers to go with the sedges are 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.

Here are photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:


Carex texensis


Carex texensis


Carex perdentata


Carex planostachys


Calyptocarpus vialis


Calyptocarpus vialis


Phyla nodiflora


Phyla nodiflora

 

 


 

More Turf Questions

Native lawn grass for El Paso
April 24, 2011 - I am new to the El Paso area and my front and back yards are currently mostly dirt with a tiny bit of dying (thank goodness) bermuda grass. I want to seed both yards with something that will grow well...
view the full question and answer

Rain garden for South Austin
March 01, 2010 - I have a TINY yard in south Austin. It is 8'x25', sandwiched between four houses and happens to be at the lowest elevation, so all of the neighbor's yards drain to ours. Originally, we had bermud...
view the full question and answer

Low-growing lawn substitute for Pennsylvania
March 19, 2008 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants Please help. We are moving to an old farm house in Western Pennsylvania with several acres of lawn. Our plan is to return much of the land to wildlife friendly meadows and woo...
view the full question and answer

Seeding an established buffalograss lawn to make it denser
May 13, 2010 - We have 5400 sq ft of existing Buffalo grass and would like to know if spreading Buffalo grass SEED would help the existing get more full? I can't seem to find the seed here or the Austin area? And, ...
view the full question and answer

Brown ryegrass in Austin lawn
June 03, 2008 - We had rye grass planted in our yard last fall. It was beautiful all winter. Now it is brown but the St. Augustine has not yet taken over, so there are large portions of the lawn with an abundance o...
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