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

Monday - June 27, 2011

From: Long Island City, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: ground covers for shady areas in New York City
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: What would be the best ground covers for big shady areas in New York City instead of lawns?

ANSWER:

I'm sorry your question and answer seemed to disappear into the Internet without leaving a trace.  Here is essentially what I wrote:

There is quite a variety of plants to choose from, depending upon your conditions, e.g. full shade, part shade, moist, dry, need for low-growing or taller species.  Grasses generally do not do well in shade, but you could use a sedge, such as Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge).  This would look nice interspersed with other short speicies like Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry), Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet) (if the site is dry),or Viola sororia (Missouri violet) (if the site is moist).  Ferns should do well.  In moist spots, Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) or Osmunda regalis (Royal fern), and in dryer spots, Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern).  If taller plants are desirable, consider Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby st. johnswort), Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (Feathery false lily of the valley), Maianthemum stellatum (Starry false lily of the valley), and Lobelia siphilitica (Great blue lobelia).  Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New england aster) should thrive in partly sunny areas.

Clicking on the names shown above will give you more information on each one.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Missouri violet
Viola sororia

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

Royal fern
Osmunda regalis

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Starry false lily of the valley
Maianthemum stellatum

Feathery false lily of the valley
Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Great blue lobelia
Lobelia siphilitica

New england aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Annual flowers for rocky area near driveway in Pennsylvania
May 25, 2010 - What type(s) of annual flowers can I plant along a driveway in northeast PA? The soil is very rocky and the area is mostly shady receiving only morning and some late afternoon sun.
view the full question and answer

Carex as a shady turf alternative in Austin
November 10, 2009 - I just read your answer to Barbara Medford's question about what multi-species native grasses would work to create a shady lawn. While you had some wonderful suggestions you mention a homeowner's as...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for shade grass in El Paso TX
April 05, 2013 - We currently have a Honey Mesquite tree with thinning bermuda grass underneath in our front yard. I suspect that the filtered shade is killing the bermuda. I was thinking of planting Buffalo Grass, or...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to shade on a west-facing wall in Houston, TX
April 28, 2010 - What plants are best to provide shade on a west facing wall in Houston. I am looking for plants that help to cool the house.
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade trees safe for livestock in pasture in Nashville GA
May 13, 2010 - I would like a list of fast growing shade trees that are safe for cows and horses in a pasture.
view the full question and answer

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