Texas Gardening forum: Shrub and grass suggestions

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nubby1082
Mar 15, 2018 7:26 AM CST
I live in North Texas and I'm trying to rehab the front of my house. I have a problem in that once the leaves on my neighbor's large pecan tree come in half of yard basically doesn't see any sunlight throughout the day. Because of this the shrubs in my garden and grass in my lawn on that side of front of the house die very quickly each summer.

So I have a two questions:

1) Does anyone have any recommendations for grass and shrubs that'll be able to handle the low/no light conditions on that side of the house?

2) How do I make the two halves of my lawn cohesive? The other side of my lawn and garden (shrubs) have no shade whatsoever. I fear if I get low light grass/shrubs on one side and full light grass/shrubs on the other, my front lawn will look like a split personality.

Thanks for any advice.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 15, 2018 11:37 AM CST
I'm a personal expert at split personalities. Why not look at some hollies? The birds will love them. There are many types of hollies so you're sure to find some to fit your light and space conditions.

Also, split personalities aren't necessarily bad.

Welcome to NGA. I have to run right now but have some more suggestions for you. But whatever you do, go native!
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
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teacup754
Mar 15, 2018 11:45 AM CST
If is one side of the house, Rip out all the dead stuff and make a big bed extending into the area of sun. Put a walk or path through the middle extending to the backyard and then it looks cohesive. Plant the hollies and some ground covers and natives and it will look great year round.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 15, 2018 9:23 PM CST
Ok, I'm back. First I have a question. You're talking about the front of your house, correct? So is there an entry to your house or a sidewalk or anything that divides the 2 areas? I like teacup's suggestion of making a path if that would work. And I agree that you might as well rip out what's not doing well.

On the shady side, I don't see any reason to have any grass. Plus it would be hard. But I'm very biased against lawns. So look at some ground covers, maybe even use a nice mulch (cedar or hardwood but not artificial) until you decide.

I have an Oakleaf Hydrangea that faces north and is under 2 large Red Oaks. Thus it gets a lot of shade. Except for right now. It's been budding out for the last week or two at a very rapid rate. That's good because the oaks are also starting to bud out. But once it starts to bloom, it will bloom all summer and into fall. By fall, however, the blooms will turn to a pale shade of brown. The leaves and branches also look great with a brown and red cast to them. I know I have pictures somewhere. Do consider this shrub but keep in mind that it is not the 'mop head' hydrangea. Check it out in our Plants Database. You'll see pictures of the blooms as well as the fall foliage.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Something I've been wanting to try is a Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera). Or rather, a dwarf wax myrtle. It handles shade and the birds love it for the berries it produces.

Here's an idea that might work for both sun and shade. Take a look at Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii). The birds, especially hummingbirds, like it as do bees and butterflies. Although I've never tried, you can make a jam (or jelly? or something like that) from the fruit.

There are many more choices and I hope you'll get a lot of suggestions. Can you tells us a little more about your growing conditions? It would help if we knew your zone. For example, I'm in Zone 8a which covers parts of North Central Texas, especially the area around Dallas. Do you know what type of soil you have? 'They' say that our soil is blackland prairie but my 'they' haven't been in my yard. I am slowly trying to amend my soil but I won't get into that.

Back to ground covers, whatever you do, choose wisely. Some are extremely aggressive and will take over everything. If no one else has suggestions, I'll try to find some for you.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - Mar 15, 2018 9:28 PM (+)]
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College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
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teacup754
Mar 15, 2018 10:06 PM CST
@nubby1082 perhaps you can post a picture of the house so we can see exactly what you are working with.
Hurst, TX (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Region: Texas
luis_pr
Mar 16, 2018 5:14 AM CST
Wax myrtles look fine but I got tired of cutting the suckers every year.
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
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teacup754
Mar 16, 2018 8:09 AM CST
luis_pr said:Wax myrtles look fine but I got tired of cutting the suckers every year.


Yes, that is an ongoing issue with them.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 16, 2018 10:06 AM CST
Good to know about wax myrtles. Maybe I don't want one after all.

@nubby1082 -- Are you wanting shrubs or plants that are evergreen? Also, any particular height? I'm thinking that ferns might be a good solution for the shady side. They won't match the sunny side but they could add an interesting contrast. There are native ferns that do well here.
Autumn fern is very pretty and generally stays evergreen. Another and very similar fern is a Southern Wood fern. It's not evergreen but comes back with a vengeance. I have neighbors who use the Southern Wood fern almost as a groundcover.

If you're not in a hurry, then you could be building up your soil with amendments if needed. At least keep it mulched because Mother Nature doesn't like to be naked.

Let us know more about the lay of the land. As suggested, a picture would be great. And let us know a little more about what you're hoping for in terms of height, shape, or whatever. We'd love to help.
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
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teacup754
Mar 16, 2018 1:20 PM CST
@tx_flower_child can you share your tips for the ferns? I have some shady spots, but have not been able to keep any alive. How much water do they need? I have a drip system and could hand water if needed.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 16, 2018 8:14 PM CST
I never had much luck either until I started transplanting Southern Wood ferns (sorry, don't know botanical name) that a neighbor has been growing since the 1950s. The first few times I tried, I failed. Then it occurred to me that they were growing in really rich soil that had been built up over the years. So this last time I transplanted some I took a bunch of the soil rather than a shallow amount. That was really the trick — good rich soil with a lot of humus. I have tons of shade and the ferns probably get a few hours of morning sun and that's about it. I don't give them much water. They'd probably like it if I did. When I remember to water them (they're in a path I don't walk on very often), I just hand water. I'm seeing a few little fiddleheads starting to pop up now. And I hope to transplant more this year.

I think I'd have better luck with Autumn ferns and others if I'd known about using really rich soil. Plus, Southern Wood ferns and Autumn ferns are native ferns and they seem to like it here. But I'm a little further north than you. Would that matter? Doubt it. Just give them lots of shade and good rich soil or compost and/or mulch.

Here's a picture of my neighbor's yard. They live across the street so their house (and ferns) face south. But they have a lot of shade from trees. My ferns face east.

Thumb of 2018-03-17/tx_flower_child/a14b72

Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Mar 18, 2018 7:51 AM CST

Moderator

That's a gorgeous fern! Would melt away here, though.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 18, 2018 8:04 AM CST
Here's a better picture because it includes a path. Puts a little more perspective on the size.

The other day I looked and was horrified to see that they had pulled out all of the ferns. I said they should have warned me first so I could get some fiddleheads. They laughed and said to wait.
All will be growing back very soon.

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College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
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teacup754
Mar 18, 2018 8:30 AM CST
@tx_flower_child Thanks for the tips. I put three different kinds in yesterday and hopefully I will have better luck this year.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 18, 2018 8:44 AM CST
I hope so. I hope I haven't led you astray.

What kinds did you plant?
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
Image
teacup754
Mar 18, 2018 10:52 AM CST
Well I already lost one tag on my ferns, but there is a Fortune's Gold holly fern and a southern wood fern. The third resembles a wood fern in leaf structure.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 18, 2018 9:47 PM CST
I don't know Fortune's Gold Holly Cyrtomium fortunei Could it be 'Cold' and not 'Gold'? Not that I know anything about it either way. It's just how it comes up when I google it. Looks good and sounds good. But some sites list it as an invasive.
http://www.missouribotanicalga...

Autumn ferns resemble a Southern Wood ferns. But when they get new leaves, they have a pretty bronze tint to them. Oh, goodness. Google says it's Dryopteris erythrosora, commonly called Japanese shield fern or autumn fern. I didn't know that those 2 were one and the same.
http://www.missouribotanicalga...

I remember not knowing how to name the Southern Wood fern and now I know why. It's also called Southern River fern. But check out the botanical names.
Dryopteris nomalis (also Thelypteris nomalis, and T. kunthii in some references)

Whatever you have, happy gardening!
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
Image
teacup754
Mar 19, 2018 6:42 AM CST
Lots of googling in the future for me! I'll check the label when I get home from work to see if it is Gold or Cold, but I remember they said it was more cold hardy, so you are probably right. These old eyes may not have read it right.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 19, 2018 12:34 PM CST
I think Gold and Cold are probably the same fern. Just an uneducated guess.
College Station,TX
zone 8
Hummingbirder Region: Texas Roses Butterflies Echinacea
Image
teacup754
Mar 19, 2018 5:01 PM CST
Yes it is Cold. My eyes just saw the letter G instead. Must be because it sounds prettier with a Gold In its name Smiling
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 19, 2018 7:36 PM CST
I walked across the street to take a picture of my neighbor's currently fern-less front yard because you can still see how rich the soil looks. However, it was so windy that I couldn't even focus long enough to take a picture of the bare patch of yard. Dang.

And double dang. My first iris bloomed today and couldn't get a decent picture of it.

To make up for all that, I cut a couple of dark purple tall bearded irises from the vacant house next door. (I'm shameless.)

Despite the wind, I did get a few pictures of my Southern Wood ferns. Didn't have anything on me to give you an idea of their size. Still small. You can see a few little fiddleheads just starting to show up. (If you squint you might not see the little weeds.)

Thumb of 2018-03-20/tx_flower_child/567674


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