Adding Ornamental Grasses for Aesthetics

The addition of ornamental grasses can add an elegant and exciting accent to your garden setting. They are a great addition to your fall landscape especially as the flowers and other plants die back. Ornamental grasses are beautiful to watch as they sway in the breeze, and they also create a soothing sound.

Ornamental grasses are beneficial for many reasons.  Grasses give motion to your landscape, attract birds and are fairly disease free and easy to grow. These grasses are not attractive to deer and other critters, so they will not be eaten off. They require very little maintenance. These grasses are a great feature for any landscape, whether you use them in containers and decorate the setting or plant them directly into the ground. Ornamental grasses offer a year round interest!

Ornamental grasses fall into many different types. There are subtle fescues, eye catching miscanthus, fountain grasses, and switch grasses. No matter what varieties you choose there are some important things to consider when choosing ornamental grasses.The first important consideration is the growing habitat for the grasses. Some grasses will grow in clumps that get larger over time, while others spread out, becoming invasive if not tended too. A clumping species is a good choice if you want the grass to be self contained. If the goal is to fill in a particular area, the spreading type is a good choice.

The next consideration is the growing season. There are cool and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses do best in cooler temperatures, growing in the spring and fall, and well into the cold weather. Warm weather plants do well in the summer, beginning to grow as soon as the weather turns warm, but some of these may not do well in winter conditions depending on your area.

Ornamental grasses come in a variety of colors as well. This is important to consider. The colors range from green, blue, red, and some even are speckled or stripped with whites and yellows.  These grasses look even better when the flower and seed spikes rise up with foliage in reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and silvers.The size and shape of the grass can be an important factor depending on where you want to place the grass. There are six inch mounds and there are also mounds that can be ten foot mounds. Clumping varieties are easier to shape than the running varieties, as these become dense mats. You cannot control the size of the grasses by pruning, so make sure you choose a grass that fits your size requirement.

If you live in an area that gets hit hard with winter weather conditions, you will want to know the hardiness of the ornamental grasses and how they survive during the winter before you buy them, no sense in purchasing something that will die. If the goal is a perennial grass, then avoid any non-hardy grasses.

When it comes to growing and tending for these plants there are some key conditions which need to be met. Read the labels of the plants to make sure they will thrive in your area. Ornamental grasses need good soil to drainage that is fertile. These grasses should never be left to get soggy. Grasses do best in full sun. Slow release fertilizers should be used in the spring to feed the grasses, this should be plenty, you do not want to overfeed or the plants become too leafy. Grasses should be planted in the fall or spring, and may take up to three years to reach their mature state.

Ornamental grasses add a wonderful touch to your garden setting, perfect to accent stunning flowers, or to line a garden path. They work well in containers also, making them a great patio arrangement as well!
By: Susan Soler of the Team