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?


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

Sunday - September 04, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for shady yard in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I was looking at your research on native grasses to be used in a yard. I want to plant your native mix of seeds, but worry that there is too much shade in my yard. I live in central Austin and wanted to know how I determine if I have too much shade? I also wanted to know if there is company out there where I can purchase the seed and have them prep my yard and plant. Thanks for your help.


We will have to tell you that the native turf grasses all depend on quite a bit of sun. Begin by charting your yard as regards the amount of sun on each area. This will require your checking various areas of the property at various times of the day. This time of year you will undoubtedly have more sun that ordinarily, except in the shade of large deciduous trees or structures. Generally speaking, we consider "full sun" to be 6 or more hours of sun a day. "Part shade" is 2 to 6 hours of sun, and "shade" is 2 hours or less of sun.

You have probably already read our How-To Articles on native turf grasses, but here are links to them for you or others who might be considering the same thing:

Native Lawns: Buffalograss

Native Lawns: Multi-Species

There are links in each article to our webpages on the individual grasses,

As for purchase of the seed and/or contractors go to our National Suppliers Directory, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list in your general area of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants.


From the Image Gallery

Bouteloua dactyloides

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Foundation garden in shade in Durham, NC
April 29, 2009 - I'm trying to replant a 3'x8' garden near the foundation of our house in Durham, NC. This part of the yard gets little, if any, sun and is mostly clay. I've tried adding compost and soil conditi...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant Wildflowers for Oklahoma City
April 16, 2012 - I live in Oklahoma City. I'm not in town very often, and am seeking low maintenance plants. I have MANY trees in my backyard, which makes it quite shady. I have raised beds amongst my rock garden ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Love Grass in Michigan
July 27, 2015 - need a replacement for Love Grass at Shops of Willow Bend in Plano. The entire perimeter of this mall has Bermuda and Love Grass. The Elms and Oaks have grown so the Love Grass is mostly gone. Ther...
view the full question and answer

Destructive landscape crews in The Woodlands TX
October 20, 2012 - Hi. We need help. We recently moved to a house where landscape crews have been blowing away the leaf litter from the front yard for many years. The underbrush was also cleared long ago. The result...
view the full question and answer

Enough sun from San Marcos TX
February 22, 2013 - I would like to plant both Lantana urticoides and Salvia farinacea in area that only has morning to 1pm sun..Will this amount of sun be enough?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center