Weatherford Democrat

Parker County Master Gardeners

March 23, 2014

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Made for the shade

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit

I have a very shady yard, covered in pine and oak trees. I want a lawn, and have tried St. Augustine without much luck. What do you recommend?

Very few turf grasses are shade tolerant. Although St. Augustine will tolerate some shade, even it requires 4-6 hours of sun to do well.

Tall fescue is a cool season grass that generally tolerates shade; however, it requires significant water and should be mowed at 3 inches, higher than most lawns.

Your best bet would be to consider a ground cover such as vinca minor, mondo grass, or lyre leaf sage (a very aggressive grower). English ivy also thrives in the shade, but requires annual pruning. Another option is a seating area with a shade garden. Check our website below for a wide variety of ornamental and native shade plants that thrive in Parker County.

Based on the weather forecast for the next seven days, I decided to go ahead and plant my tomatoes. What should I do if we get a late freeze?

Almost anything that will cover the new plants will provide protection— flower pots, 5-gallon buckets or blankets. For longer-term protection from frost, as well as wind and insects, use a frost fabric, available at local nurseries and online.

Wrap the fabric around a tomato cage, or one built with concrete reinforcing wire, 18 inches in diameter and 5 feet tall. Leave it in place until the leaves touch the sides, and cover the top of the cage only if frost is forecast. Water plants thoroughly before a predicted freeze.

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