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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 10, 2013

From: East Hampton, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Planting, Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
Answered by: Guy Thompson


Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my front yard out of my back yard every time it rains, how to? I can't afford a landscaper. Do I just buy the seed over the Internet or do I buy live plants and hope for the best? How much do I buy to cover 1000 square feet? So it doesn't look crazy, is there a method to the placement? As you can see, I am out of my element to say the least.


If you haven't already checked this category in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database, click on Mr. Smarty Plants on the upper right side of the screen and type into the Search by Keywords space "Ground covers for shade in NY".  This will bring up a number of questions and answers to topics like yours.  You can get useful tips from some of these.   With respect to your need to know how to proceed with the plants you finally choose, I suggest that you click on How To articles on the Plant Database page and consult "Caring for your new native plants" and "Gardening timeline". 

Not knowing which species you have picked out, I cannot offer specific advice.  Some species can be planted in the fall while others would be better started in the spring.  I suggest that you consult experts in one of your local plant nurseries. They can give you the information you need for your particular site.  And they can inform you as to whether rooted plant or seeds are your best option for getting started.  If seeds are appropriate the supplier often indicates the optimal number of seeds to sow per square foot.

Before talking with suppliers it would be well to type the common or botanical name of each plant you have chosen into the Plant Database and read the description that appears.  You will often find good advice there regarding the planting and care of the species.

You are setting out on a very exciting experience with native plants.  I feel certain that you will find it rewarding.


More Shade Tolerant Questions

Ground cover for shade that is drought tolerant
August 02, 2010 - Can you suggest a ground cover or plant that loves shade and is drought tolerant in the Austin Region? If the two do not coexist can you suggest a ground cover for shade.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade under oaks in San Antonio
May 04, 2013 - I have been modifying my landscape to reduce grass and the need for frequent watering. Have turned half the backyard into native plants garden with hardscape and sitting areas. Have 2 mature Monterey ...
view the full question and answer

Native ground covers for rocky, shady slope in Arlington, TX
January 25, 2009 - I need a good native ground cover for a completely shaded and rocky 30 degree slope with red sandy soil and southern exposure. Will anything grow in these conditions?
view the full question and answer

Plants for shady area in Brenham, TX
February 19, 2008 - I have an area which receives shade all day, but gets a lot of sun just before sunset. What sorts of plants would do well?
view the full question and answer

Natives for a raised, part-shade bed in Pearland TX
March 29, 2010 - I have a couple of raised beds that I want to plant a few shrubs (3 feet tall), perennials, and annuals. I want all the plants to be native to Texas. The only problem is that I am not plant knowledgea...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center