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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.

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Sunday - November 24, 2013

From: Pilot Point, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grasses for shady areas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.

ANSWER:

First, we need to establish whether your area is considered shade (less than 2 hours of sun per day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).  Then, we need to consider what kind of grass you want for your shady area.  I suspect you are looking for turf grass for your shade.   If that's what you want, I'm afraid you are out of luck. There aren't any native turf grasses that do well in the shade.   I can recommend a sedge species, Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge), that is grasslike and makes a good evergreen groundcover.  It grows to about 1 foot high but can be lightly mowed to make it look tidier.

There are several attractive ornamental grasses that don't qualify as turf grasses that will grow in full shade.   They are:

Setaria scheelei (Southwestern bristlegrass)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

There are several other non-grass groundcovers that will grow in shade:

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) is semi-evergreen.

Asplenium platyneuron (Ebony spleenwort) has evergreen sterile fronds and also fertile fronds.

Packera obovata (Golden groundsel) is semi-evergreen or evergreen.

Geum canadense (White avens)

If your area qualifies as part shade, there are a couple of low, evergreen sedges that do well in part shade and make a good groundcover.

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Here are some low groundcovers that will do well in part shade:

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) is semi-evergreen.

Rivina humilis (Pigeonberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Southwestern bristlegrass
Setaria scheelei

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Ebony spleenwort
Asplenium platyneuron

Golden groundsel
Packera obovata

White avens
Geum canadense

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

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