Ornamental Grasses: Selection, Design Ideas and Care
Ornamental grasses can be a gardener’s desire! They are a great combination of striking form, easy maintenance, and all-year-round interest. They are available in various sizes, colors, and different textures. Grasses add a layer of movement and sound to your garden as the loose, long-lasting leaves shift and rustle in the wind.
Ways to Use Ornamental Grasses
The taller ornamental grass species create a striking focal point for vast open spaces. They’re an excellent choice anywhere you’d typically grow a plant. Place tall ornamental grasses on an outdoor patio to give you the desired privacy and reduce street noise.
The medium height of grasses is the right choice for a perennial landscape which adds solid vertical lines and gives your garden an enticing and full appearance. They can be used as a border for the foundation of your house, wall, or fence where you’d like something unique and easy to care for without overpowering the structure.
Small ornamental grasses are great to plant in the foreground of an herb garden or borders for shrubs. They’re also the perfect size to plant along a walkway or near the base of a tree. They can be grown by themselves in a pot or even use tiny ornamental grass to create the focal point of a container, surrounded by flowering perennials or annuals.
Grasses are ideal to plant close to areas of high traffic, for example, on a path or the edge of a house. In contrast to more rigid plants, the blades can be easily removed if someone wanders by. Grasses can be used to disguise unattractive utilitarian boxes as their fluid foliage allows for easy access to maintenance.
The short ornamental grasses can be used as a thick ground cover.
Ornamental grasses are a popular choice to plant in gardens with gravel. Most grasses have deep root systems that allow them to reach the water even when dry.
.Are you stuck on a creative method to decorate an otherwise dull corner? Consider laying one of the taller grasses in the corner. Then put a few medium grasses in the middle and finish by putting smaller grasses in the background.
The seed heads of grasses (the inflorescence) are employed for cutting flower bouquets. Cut them fresh or let the stems dry on the plant, then pick them up for dried flowers in autumn.
Ornamental Grass Selection
Numerous species of ornamental grasses are available. They all prefer full sun; however, be sure to look for the tag on the plant because some like shade. If you’re seeking a grass to be used in an area with shade, think about Hakone Grass, Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra), Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), as well as the narrow-leaved Reed Grass (Calamagrostis stricta). What you plan to do with the grass will determine the grass you’ll pick. Here are some of the most popular choices that are based on the size of your lawn:
Hare’s Tail (Lagurus Ovus)
Ornamental grass grew because of its soft furry oval white “bunny tail” plumes atop an arch of grass-like, light green foliage. Also referred to by the name Rabbit Tail Grass and Bunny Tail Grass. It thrives in sunlight, and it is drought and heat-resilient once it has been established. It is a beautiful cut flower to use in dry or fresh arrangements. The most striking when placed in groups.
Blue Oat Grass ‘Sapphire’ (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
The attractive bright, sapphire foliage looks like an erect Fescue. Blue Oat Grass grows in almost any soil and, once established, is highly drought-resistant. Significant to the contrast of bright-flowered flowers, or make an excellent appearance by planting it with pastel, white, or purple flowers. It is effective when produced in large quantities and is a perfect ground cover for large areas.
Woodrush (Luzula species)
Luzula can be described as evergreen plants similar to grasses and rushes. They have linear, flat leaves and tiny flower clusters that appear in summer or spring. The thick foliage is ideal for mass planting and is highly efficient for keeping a large area well-groomed and weeds-free. Easy to grow in almost any kind of soil or at a light level that is full sun or complete shade. An excellent ground cover to help with erosion control on slopes with rough edges and steep banks.
Japanese Blood Grass ‘Red Baron’ (Imperata cylindrical)
A very vibrant ornamental grass and an excellent way to add rich color to your garden throughout the year without flowers. Blades of this grass are a mixture of red and green that change towards the end of the leaf. The color turns more intensely red between the latter part of summer and autumn. The plant can remain standing throughout winter to provide landscaping interest and shelter for small mammals. An excellent alternative for larger containers for your patio.
Feather Grass “Pony Tails’ (Stipa tenuissima)
Feather grass can bring the scenery to life. The fine, almost hair-like vegetation responds to even the slightest wind, producing soft rustling sounds and giving the landscape a bouncy feel. It can balance texture against more rigid, coarse plants like pines and junipers. It is an excellent alternative for mixed borders or as a fence foundation. It adds striking color and shape to winter and autumn landscapes. Dry foliage provides beautiful nesting materials for birds and other wildlife during the spring.
Hakone Grass, Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Hakonechloa’s unique and fluid design creates a soothing aesthetic in the natural landscape. The plant is native to Japan, where it thrives in wooded areas or small, shaded spaces in the mountain’s cliffs. An ideal choice to create the appearance of the feel of a Japanese garden is wanted. Combine Hakonechloa with other foliage that loves shade plants like Hosta, Hellebore, and Polygonatum to create a fascinating textural contrast in areas without sunlight for blooming plants to thrive.
Chinese Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Fountain grass is an ideal option to add soft texture to your landscape. In the late summer, the massive cluster of elegantly arching foliage is awash with showy pink, purplish-pink flowering plumes. An easy-to-grow and easy-to-maintain in any circumstance that has well-drained soil. Flower heads are attractive designs for flower arrangements, and they can be dried to use in craft projects.
Red Fountain Grass ‘Rubrum’ (Pennisetum setaceum)
A gracefully arched red foliage provides a splash of color throughout the year and soft textures in your landscape. The deep red flowers make fascinating decorations for arrangements of flowers. They can also be dried to use in craft projects. It is a fast-growing plant in almost any environment with well-drained soil. It is best to leave the plant in winter. Dry foliage is an excellent addition to the winter landscape and can be a nesting place for birds in the spring.
Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
Tufted Hair Grass is a neat panicle clump that makes a fluffy cloud over the foliage. The slender leaf blades and arched panicles provide a sense of sound and movement when the wind moves through the leaves. It is among the first grasses blooming and the few that can tolerate shade. It is highly effective when planted in large quantities and can be a helpful ground cover over a large area.
Narrow-leaved Reed Grass (Calamagrostis stricta)
An exquisite ornamental grass that is simple to cultivate. Elegantly growing, the vibrant green foliage proliferates in the moist soil. Wheat-colored flowering plumes of wheat bloom for a prolonged period. The elegant lines create interest in the winter landscape. Only be concerned about trimming back your plants in spring. Birds will also love the dry leaves to use for nesting materials in the spring.
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
It is native to the central and eastern United States and Mexico. Beautiful, fine-textured grass with fluffy panicles of delicate pink flowers. Lends an airy, light design to gardens. It is ideal for areas where nothing else will be able to survive. Perfect for naturalized areas, large-scale plantings, as well as mixed borders. The plant can be used as a central accent for any landscape.
Variegated Moor Grass ‘Variegata’ (Molinia caerulea)
Moor Grass is straightforward to cultivate and requires little maintenance other than cutting off the dead grass every spring to allow for the following growth. Beautiful in winter’s landscapes, the dry leaves and flower heads are a great way to add interest, and the sound of the breeze through the crisp foliage evokes memories of summer. Ideal for mixed border plants.
Canada Wild Rye ‘Icy Blue’ (Elymus canadensis)
A grass that is fast-growing with beautiful blue-green leaves and curving seedheads. The robust plants are salt-tolerant and are ideal for coastal areas. They provide dramatic color and form on the ground. It can be used as an accent in an area bordered by plants or in a group for maximum impact on color. It is an excellent ground cover for an extensive space.
Hardy Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)
A stunning specimen plant with an appealing landscape all year. Silver-gray, feathery plumes highlight the elegant mound of grassy leaves during summer. They will continue all through winter. The stalks are also cut to use in dried arrangements indoors. A stunning background plant or the focal point of mixed borders.
Miscanthus, Ornamental Grass (Miscanthus species)
The Miscanthus varieties of grasses provide an array of stunning leaves, colors, shapes, and textures. There’s sure to be a suitable one for almost every location and need. Dry foliage creates interest in the winter landscape and provides nesting materials for birds in spring. Highly tolerant of challenging areas that are hot and dry. An excellent specimen for a border or foundation plant.
Variegated Giant Reed Grass (Arundo donax var. versicolor)
A clump-forming, evergreen grass. The leaves are a vibrant creamy white color. It has soft, reddish-brown spikes which turn white after a certain point. It is beautiful in the waterside garden. An excellent plant for backing mixed borders. It is ideal for privacy screening for decks or to block unattractive views. Makes an essential focal feature in any garden.
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
It is a North American native prairie grass that gives any spot a relaxing natural look. It can be found in almost every soil, including clay or infertile, poor soils. It’s an excellent option for difficult areas such as slopes or where maintenance-intensive plants aren’t feasible. It makes a reliable mixed border plant suitable for a tall background plant. It adds striking color and shape to winter and autumn landscapes.
Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foerster’ (Calamagrostis x acutiflora)
One of the most desirable grasses can be found in clay soil. It forms a neat cluster of leaves, followed by the long, soaring plumes that inspired the plant’s famous title, “Feather Reed Grass.” Planting in mixed borders, on foundations and fences, or even with other grasses is a straightforward choice to create an organic look. The graceful lines add a touch of elegance to winter landscaping. Birds will be delighted by the dry foliage for nesting materials in spring.
How to Plant an Ornamental Grass
Once established, they will become one of the plants that will be carefree in your garden. The ideal time to plant them is in spring. However, there is also the option of planting perennial grasses in autumn. These are steps to follow for plant an ornamental grass:
1. Choose a sunny or shaded area.
2. Make a hole that is two or three inches deeper than that of the root ball.
3. Put your plant into the hole, ensuring that the surface of your rootball (the base of the plant) is aligned with the soil. Remove dirt from your spot to ensure that the plant has been set.
4. The soil should be filled around the plant, then tap down using your hands or feet. When the earth has been leveled with the ground, thoroughly sprinkle your ornamental grass with water. To the amount of rainfall, it is recommended to water your newly transplanted grass often for a few weeks to assist it in getting established.
5. Mulch is a great addition to give your plant an appealing appearance and keep moisture during the hot summer.
Growing Ornamental Grass in a Pot
The tallest grasses are suited to big pots or permanent planters. Make use of the container you prefer to create the atmosphere of the space.
- You can make a contemporary design using geometric shapes like a square or round bowl.
- Use a large, ornate urn to create a romantic Victorian-era feeling.
- Grow grass with a rustic tub of metal or terra cotta planter or even a planter made of wood for a natural and stylish design.
- The smaller grasses cancan be cultivated with vibrant flowers to create an appearance that resembles a large garden. The perfect option for those who have limited outdoor space to a balcony, deck, and window boxes.
How to Divide an Ornamental Grass
In time, ornamental grasses expand and can take up more extensive areas. There may come a time when you must divide your plants to keep the proper size to their location. Additionally, certain grasses die off in the middle when new growth begins toward the outside edges. They lose some aesthetic appeal when they begin to appear sparse. Dividing them and digging is a method to revive the beauty of one large cluster.
The ideal time to divide grass is the latter part of winter or at the beginning of spring. It’s simple to know what you’re doing without most foliage, and the plant will expand throughout the growth season. It is recommended to divide your ornamental grass every three years to preserve the original size.
Steps for Dividing an Ornamental Grass
The steps involved in dividing an ornamental grass are easy. These steps are suitable regardless of whether you’re starting with a brand new plant you want to divide and grow into tiny plants or lifting an existing plant to shrink its size.
1. Find your grass clump, or pull a flower from its container. To take a plant out using a shovel, cut around the plant’s base 3″ away from where the plant’s foliage begins to emerge. Place the shovel in the ground, then move upward when underneath the plant. It may be necessary to repeat this procedure multiple times before removing it from the root ball. Ornamental grasses have thick fibrous roots that require some effort to break up.
2. Shake all loose soil away from root systems as much as possible. This can help you save soil to plant when you are ready to replant your section, enabling you to observe what you’re doing while you work.
3. Cutting through the root ball is most efficient when you use the sizeable serrated kitchen cutting knife, pruning saw, or garden knife; however, you can also cut the ball using shovels. It is possible to employ a large handsaw when the root is too big for hand tools with smaller handles.
4. When the roots are fully exposed, choose a location where you can cut off the entire clump. Cut until you’ve succeeded in cutting out the whole core. If your plant is large, cutting root clumps into smaller pieces is possible according to the number of plants you’d like.
5. Reintroduce a smaller clump to the hole from which it came. There’s a chance that you’ll lose some soil after you’ve removed a big root ball, so it’s recommended to keep an extra bag of garden soil in your bag so that you can fill in the hole when you’re not able to soil cover the entire hole to the surface.
6. Incorporate the soil around the plant, and compact it with your feet or hands. Bring the earth back to the level of the ground, and Then sprinkle your ornamental grass with water thoroughly. If you’re splitting your plant in spring, based on the rainfall, it’s best to water the grass you’ve transplanted frequently for a couple of weeks to ensure it gets established.
Ornamental Grass Fall Care
As autumn draws near, the ornamental grass in your yard will begin to develop a golden brown shade. After the plant has gone into dormancy for winter, there are two alternatives. Cutting your grass to about 3-4″ off the soil is possible, and maintenance is unnecessary throughout the year. Another option is to let the grass for the winter and then cut it back in the early spring, just before the new growth of green begins to appear. Many people appreciate the additional appeal that the dry grass provides in the landscape of winter, as well as the gentle rustling sound of the winds passing through the dry blades. Birds can also benefit from the dry materials available to construct nests in early spring.