Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Shade Plants for Central Texas

Shade in Central Texas used to be a real challenge for me. I was always a sun garden girl and I love the diverse collection of colors and shapes you can use in the full sun, Xeriscape garden. However, as I took on more challenging gardens with filtered light and deep shade, I became more delighted by the opportunities. While you may not have the color palette you have in sun, you have a really cool variation in shades of green, variegated and textured leaves to work with.

This is a shade garden where I have used contrast and color to create interest. Adding natural elements like river rock can also bring light to the space.

Creating drama with natural elements like river rock or a dry creek bed can lighten and define a shade garden.  Be sure to include variegated plants and assorted shades of green.

I love this shot, it is a great view from the top of the hill to the seating area below. I have used a combination of TX perennials with seasonal annuals to make a statement of color with leaves in a really dark space.

I love this shot, it is a great view from the top of the hill to the seating area below. I have used a combination of TX perennials with seasonal annuals to make a statement of color with leaves in a really dark space.

 In the space above I show how I have used similarly shaped (mounding) plants with contrasting foliage but most have long leaves with varying widths to tie in a collection of assorted colors.

Here again I am showing a combination of perennials and annuals. This is a low to moderate water use garden that is strategically planted for maximum efficiency.

In this photo (above) I am showing how I have used an assortment of textures to play with the limited light that comes through the trees. Even the slightest breeze creates movement as well. All excellent ways to create drama without the benefit of bright color.

 Finally, I want to share some of my favorite shade plants though the list is too long to include here so for more photos and information head to my Facebook page here.

Shrimp Plant

Shrimp Plant

Potted plants are a great way to add interest to shade and Firecracker fern is a great addition to any part shade garden. 

grecian pattern plant

Grecian Pattern Plant

Wood Fern

Wood Fern

Spider Wort

Spider Wort

Ming Fern

Ming Fern

Canna Tropicanna

Canna Tropicanna

Elaeagnus × ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge,

Elaeagnus × ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge,

DIanella Flax Lily, Lisa LaPaso

Dianella Flax Lily

American Beauty Berry, Lisa LaPaso

American Beauty Berry

Arelia Palm, Lisa LaPaso

Arelia Palm

List of additional shade to part sun plants:

Nolina Grass, Cedar Sedge, Oxolis, pigeonberry, TX Aster, Dwarf Ruellia, Tropical Saliva, Holly Fern, Umbrella Plant, White and Blue Mistflower, Rock Rose Pavonia, Elbow Bush, Mock Orange, Buckeye, Sumac and so much more.

If you are in Austin or the surrounding area and would like information on a shade landscape design or educational consultation call me at 512-733-7777 or email me at

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design (“like” me on Facebook)

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Check me out of YouTube!


  1. Lisa, you are so good at what you do and it is so evident that you are so passionate about this! You inspire me! These are beautiful.

    • Thank you Maria, I do love what I do and literally get an adrenalin rush when I am designing. Plants are magical and I am so honored to work for Mother Earth 😉

  2. Toni D.

    Hi Lisa. I’m in Austin too! I was wondering if you would tell me one or two of your favorite places to buy plants. I seem to always go to Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, but I’d like to support a local nursery. I’d like to get some plants for a shade gaden. (I’m in NE Austin). Thanks!

    • Hi Toni! Sorry for the delay…my favorite places to shop for plants are Barton Springs Nursery, The Natural Gardener, Leaf Landscape supply and Hill Country Water Gardens. There are also great annual and semi annual sales at the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower Center, and a few of the native plant society’s of taxes that are local. If you were on Facebook that is a good place to find them and follow the sales and dates. The others of course are available most of the year and will carry a predominant amount of native and adaptive plants. Even the best nurseries will carry stuff that is questionable for our hardiness zones are always do your homework.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: