Imagine a garden of flowing, swaying, undulating plants that respond to the slightest breeze! Your garden should be as much about motion and texture as it is color and fragrance! So when you are designing your garden beds and landscape, don’t leave out Ornamental Grasses!
The beauty of Ornamental Grasses is they can be formal or informal, or both! Your choices range from dense, upright, sprawling, arching, architectural, tall, airy, spikey, or bold and colorful! And that’s just the foliage! You also have those plumes!
Small and compact, tall and regal, graceful and fluid- there are so many choices available these days! The best method to narrow down your options is to first select your Growing Zone, the Grass height and width, and how much Sun your area receives.
Also, remember Grasses come in two categories - Warm Season that grows in late spring/summer, and Cool Season which grows as soon as the ground warms in spring.
Tall, sturdy, and structural, these are your towers of waving blades, often growing vertical and erect for a dramatic exclamation point. These specimens are amazing back-of-the-border plantings, hedges, and privacy. Reaching at least 5 - 8 feet tall when in bloom, the informal or formal effect depends on how evenly you space them.
Persistent stems through the winter for 3-season screening that’s fast. From blocking an unsightly view and creating garden rooms, Tall Grasses are perfect for speedy screening. Hide your property from the street, or hide the neighbors with a closely planted row.
Use a series of 3, 5, or 7 on a berm planting in the front lawn, for a natural-looking, loose arrangement. If you prefer military precision, plant straight rows, 3 feet on center for a solid screen. Measure from the center of one to the center of the next. Stagger the plants in a zig-zag for an effective, unique display.
Because Tall Grasses need cut back in early spring to rejuvenate growth each year, you will not have a screen in early spring, but these fast-growing perennials come back bigger and better each year. If year-round privacy is a must, plant in front of a fence or row of privacy shrubs or trees while they mature.
Nature Hills picks are Skyracer Purple Moor Grass, Big Bluestem Grass, striped Porcupine Grass, and lovely Silver Feather Maiden Grass!
Perfect as low hedges and interspersed throughout garden beds and borders for texture and color. The year-round interest, unique and unusual forms, plus color that changes throughout the seasons, allow you to enjoy something new as they transition from verdant spring growth to summer plumes to fall fiery colors!
Pepper these in ribbons or rows that undulate between other plants in your garden. Plant in rows for low property definition and as facer plants that hide larger tree or shrubs bare legs. They also add motion, sound, and variety.
Nature Hills Horticulturist picks include Japanese Silver Grass, Dwarf Maiden Grass, or one of the many Variegated varieties.
Define edges or replace small patches of lawn with these low-growing gems. Easing the transition between lawn and garden, Small Grasses are perfect in long rows that create a finished effect.
Short Grass has a wispy habit that’s perfect for containers, planters, and even window boxes for waterfall spilling texture. Their clean lines spill gracefully onto walkways without taking over.
With names like Little Bunny, Tufted Hair, and Little Miss, you know these are adorable additions to your garden! Other favorites here at Nature Hills are Little Blue Fescue, Blonde Ambition, Prairie Dropseed, and Gold Dew Tufted Hair Grass.
Create an effective, low-maintenance way of dealing with wide-open bare ground that needs filling fast. Perfect for Xeriscaping and creating the illusion of water with undulating, waves of grass blades and plumes. Alight a large area with wonder and dramatic banks of color.
Mass planted Grasses make a dangerous-to-mow hillside or slope into a waving sea of green while preventing erosion and also slowing water run-off. You can also create wildlife habitat and naturalized areas for cover, food, and nesting for gamebirds and songbirds!
For that area where the gutters drain or a low area that’s soggy. Wet soil-loving Grasses are perfect in Rain Gardens and Run-off areas; filtering and slowing rushing water.
Plant around streams, ponds, and water features, they thrive in average garden conditions too. Water these during drought and mulch well. None do well in permanent standing water, or stagnant conditions.
Nature Hills Picks include Sedges, Fall Panicums, and Sweet Flag (alternative grassy foliage & Iris-like blooms)
Watering just enough to get these tough customers established, then you won’t have to worry much afterward. Use in Rock Gardens, Dry stream beds, Sunbaked areas, and Commercial plantings, Naturalized Sites, and Restored Prairies, Xeriscaping Grass is the way to go.
Most grasses are made for the sun. In fact, they do best in at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. You also may lose their uniform growth and prolific flowering.
Tall - Pampas - Avoid Near Native Waterways
Dramatic Color - Purple Flame Grass
Soft Flowing - Pink Muhly
Specimen/Texture - Purple Fountain
Smaller Texture - Karley Rose Fountain
Filler - Twilight Zone Little Bluestem and/or Burgundy Bunny Dwarf Fountain
Tall - Porcupine
Dramatic Color - Korean Feather Reed
Soft Flowing - Northwind Switchgrass
Specimen/Texture - Northern Sea Oats
Smaller Texture - Fox Sedge
Filler - Gold Dew Tufted Hair Grass and/or Dwarf Fountain
Tall - Malepartus Maiden
Dramatic Color - Overdam Feather Reed
Soft Flowing - Adagio
Specimen/Texture - Heavy Metal Switchgrass
Smaller Texture - Blonde Ambition Blue Grama
Filler - Cassian Dwarf Fountain
Cut down to 4-6 inches in early spring before you see new growth, rake out the clump to remove dead debris and leaves. Our Garden Blog has great information on Pruning Grass Here! Some of the taller Grasses may require a pruning saw or trimmer if the blades are very stiff. The high silica in Grass blades dulls tools fast.
Just like the old days when expenses of Short Grass and Tall Grass Prairies once dominated the Midwest, introduce a little of the ‘amber waves of grain’ back into your landscape today!
Let NatureHills.com help you create an easy-care, beautiful landscape that works with you and for you instead of the other way around! Head over to our website where a world of choices of Ornamental Grasses await you today!
When it comes to caring for your ornamental grasses, there are a few things that you’re going to want to keep an eye out for. These plants, while beautiful, aren’t invincible. They are susceptible to disease and pests the same way that many other plants are and should be cared for with the same consideration.
While ornamental grasses may face fewer threats than some plants, their devastation can be just as ugly...quite literally. These pests and diseases can quickly turn your beautiful garden into a wilted landscape design.
Some of the most common ailments that afflict these plants are fungicides, blights, rusts, and aphids. To monitor for these afflictions regularly check the leaves in the Spring, the Fall, and occasionally for root health. The wet Spring weather can bring about leaf spots that are more challenging to remove, and the Fall is the perfect time for rust to take hold of your plant. Keeping an eye out on the roots throughout the year will give you a good gauge of the overall health of your grasses. This will help you to take notice should a little extra help be needed before harder months in the Winter and other seasons that may cause stress to the plants.
For treatment options, NatureHills.com offers a variety of pests and disease control treatment options that can quickly and safely help to protect your plant. Take a look at their options here.