Ornamental Grass Care

  1. Landscaping With Ornamental Grasses

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    Ornamental landscape grasses vary in size, shape, color and texture in both foliage and inflorescence (seed head). Ornamental grass landscaping makes use of mature plants that range in height from 6 inches to 14 or more feet. Grass forms vary from low mounding to fountain shaped to tall vertical. Foliage color includes shades of green, yellow, blue, red, brown and variegated (green and white mixed). Ornamental grass landscaping takes advantage of the displays of grasses that change foliage color in the fall. Fall colors of straw yellow, orange, red or purple are available. Landscape grass foliage texture varies from fine to coarse (blade width from 1/8 to 1/2 inch).

    Ornamental grass foliage provides a surface to catch the wind. This movement adds a sense of motion to the landscape and adds life, motion and sound to the landscape.

    Blue oat grass is commonly domesticated in western Montana.

    Ornamental grasses in borders are attractive, not only for their graceful and delicate flower clusters, but also for their alluring plumes and ornate foliage. Choosing the right grass for the border depends on shade or sun tolerance, water requirements, soil types, and growth or height requirements.  The type of garden, yard, or landscape desired must be considered carefully when choosing grasses, whether formal or informal, rock, mixed border, or water garden.

    Ornamental grasses and borders are fantastic for softening landscapes, and can be used as a contrast to plants with bold outlines. Ornamental grasses in borders may attract the eye away from or towards a specific area. This is done by using different grass colors or a wide range of grass heights. With seasonal changes, this provides a focal points for garden planners.

    Ornamental grasses in borders range from the tall grasses, providing a screen, to the short ornate grasses, that indicate a gardens division from lawn grass. Use ornamental grasses in borders with perennials or as a backdrop to borders or other plantings.

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  2. Planting Ornamental Grasses

    The narrow purplish brown inflorescences contrast well against the green foliage during mid to sometimes late summer.

    Planting ornamental grasses successfully begins with soil preparation on a site that has good drainage. Ideally, the soil should be prepared in the fall. Begin by deep tilling the soil. The fall tillage improves the soil till workability. Spring tillage for planting ornamental grasses is also satisfactory. Ornamental grasses do not require large amounts of fertilizer. Soil that is high in organic matter is preferred. Amend the soil, if needed, with ample organic matter, while tilling the soil. Small amounts of a general-purpose fertilizer can also be added while tilling.

    Planting ornamental grasses can be accomplished in the spring or the fall. Spring planted ornamental grasses have the advantage of a full summer of root development to ward off damage from freezing ground temperatures. Fall planting of ornamental grasses should be done during August and September to enable some root development before frost. Fall planting of ornamental grasses may require a light cover of straw or hay during the first winter to protect the tender roots.

    Ornamental grasses should be planted at the same depths as the pot or container they were growing. Planting ornamental grasses too deep tend to develop roots that will rot in the ground. Keep uniform soil moisture around the grass for optimum development.

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