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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - September 15, 2012

From: Conroe, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Low maintenance grass for shade in Conroe, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the best low maintenance grass to plant in front lawn shaded, no traffic area?

ANSWER:

We think this may be what we call a "dream plant." We have correspondents that give us all the characteristics of their particular garden, and then ask for such things as low maintenance, deer resistant, evergreen, ever-blooming and on and on. Obviously, you are not asking for that much, but we don't have the ability to custom design a plant.

Shade is going to be the biggest problem. Most grasses for shade are non-native and not well adapted to Texas; for instance, St. Augustine. This is a water slurping grass that is  high maintenance and native to Africa. You may need to rethink "lawn," for something more practical and xeric.

Because we find ourselves answering very similar questions over and over, we would like for you to read these previous questions, all on native ground covers and all from Texas. The plants on some of those lists may not be appropriate to Southeast Texas, but the text concerns the same problems you have, shade, low maintenance, etc. Follow each link to the previous question; some have additional links you may find informative.

Conroe TX

LaRue TX

Runaway Bay TX

Anson TX

Next, let us introduce you to our Recommended Species section. On the map, click on Southeast Texas, which includes Montgomery County. This will give you a list of 117 species that should do well in your part of Texas. Be sure and read the description of the ecology of that part of the state. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on the plant and there find out its growing conditions, water needs, expected heights, etc. You can do the same with plants links in the previous questions above, remembering to compare the information on each plant with the situation you have in your own garden. I think you will find very few, or none, low groundcovers for shade, so you may want to consider some of the suggestions made in other previous questions, such as decomposed granite and mulch, instead of "lawn."

 

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