The Q&A Archives: Shaded backyard

Question: I live in Austin, TX where summers are hot & humid, with little rain. We have planted sod twice over the years in the backyard, but, because of shade, there is little sunlight. We are tired of dirt & would like to make it more inviting. Are there any drawbacks/problems using rock/gravel to landscape the backyard with? Would rock/gravel work instead of grass or could you suggest something else?

Answer: It is really difficult to get grass to thrive in shady areas so groundcovers or hardscape materials might be your best bet. Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans), Liriope, Monkey grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) or Vinca are good groundcover choices for your gardening region. Or you can use hardscape materials such as rock or gravel. I'd use a weed barrier landscape fabric on the soil before laying rocks or gravel, just to keep weeds down.

Good luck with your landscape!

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