Going native in my lawn!

Asked March 26, 2020, 4:40 PM EDT

I live in the City and my front yard has more weeds and moss than grass. It also has a patch about 5' diameter of monkey grass that Mother Nature provided. Since my grass is barely surviving I think it's probably best if plant some shade loving native plants. Trees in my yard are: 25' tall ornamental Magnolia Starfire, 50-60' tall Yellowwood, 50' tall Katsura and 20' tall dogwood. The Magnolia and dogwood are within landscaped areas vs within the grassy areas. About 20' in front of the Yellowwood and Katsura trees are 2 Little Leaf Lindens that are between the public sidewalk and curb. Do you have any suggestions of plants (native preferred) that I can put in where I won't be disturbing the tree roots? Thank you, Joyce Connor

Jefferson County Kentucky

1 Response

Using native plants and others in the right place is key to success. The best information I can give you is to take a step back and look at what works in your landscape. If monkey or mondo grass works well, use it or other varieties of liriope as ground cover. For perennial plants that like shady spots this link may help: https://barren.ca.uky.edu/files/perennials_for_shady_locations.pdf

Other ground covers can be found here: https://simpson.ca.uky.edu/files/ground_covers_for_ky_landscapes.pdf

Trees, shrubs, groundcovers and vines that grow in KY can be found here, the smaller trees and shrubs are most likely to help you. The publication is written so that the tallest plants are listed first. halfway through the shorter trees and shrubs are listed by height. Most of the smaller plants are considered under-story so they will take shade. https://simpson.ca.uky.edu/files/ground_covers_for_ky_landscapes.pdf

Louisville Water has a great site on native KY plants and can be found here: https://www.louisvillewater.com/sites/louisvillewater.com/files/user_uploads/Water%20Quality/Wellhead%20Protection/Chapter%204%20Native%20Plants.pdf

KY native plant nurseries: http://www.plantnative.org/nd_kytomt.htm

The Kentucky Native Plant Society also has great information on native plants: https://www.knps.org/

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
Email: carol.wilder@uky.edu

502-569-2344
4200 Gardiner View Avenue

Louisville KY 40213