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Ornamental Grass Plants for Landscaping and How To Use Them

As I drive around the area, I always check out people’s landscaping. One feature, if done correctly, that always catches my eye right off the bat is – ornamental grasses. I admit, it is an extremely rare occasion that I see anyone using ornamental grasses in their landscape. Most of the time you will see them at businesses of some type like the occasional doctor’s office.

Most people overlook grass as a useful part of the overall look of their landscape. They can be used as an accent border, a privacy barrier, or an amazing focal point filled with movement and texture.

One of the great things about most grasses is that they require little to no attention. They will usually thrive in your worst soil conditions as well and can be used to add some interest to an otherwise boring landscape.

Some people may consider grasses preferable in high traffic areas or around a pool because most are non-flowering and will not attract bees but can still give some color and texture.

Ornamental grasses offer endless possibilities for enhancing garden designs. They can serve as focal points, borders, or fillers in mixed beds. When selecting grasses, consider their mature size, growth habit, and seasonal changes to ensure they complement your landscape year-round. With their low maintenance and high impact, ornamental grasses are a valuable addition to any garden.

Varities of Grass Plants for Landscaping

Landscaping with ornamental grasses adds a touch of elegance and movement to gardens, creating visually stunning spaces that are easy to maintain. These grasses come in various sizes, colors, and textures, making them versatile for any garden design. Here are five types of ornamental grasses that can transform your garden into a picturesque outdoor retreat.

1. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)

Fountain Grass is a popular choice for its beautiful, feathery plumes and arching, green foliage. This grass thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, reaching heights of up to 5 feet. Its striking appearance adds texture and color, especially in the late summer and fall when its flowers bloom. Varieties like ‘Hameln’ are more compact, perfect for smaller spaces.

2. Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)

Maiden Grass is known for its graceful, silver-green blades that turn golden in the fall. It can grow up to 7 feet tall, providing a dramatic backdrop for perennial beds. The feathery flower heads, appearing in late summer, add softness and depth. ‘Gracillimus’, a popular cultivar, has narrow leaves and a more refined silhouette, making it ideal for a variety of landscaping themes.

3. Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

Blue Fescue stands out with its striking blue foliage, forming dense, spherical tufts up to a foot high. This drought-tolerant grass prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It’s perfect for rock gardens, borders, or as a groundcover. The blue color provides a cool contrast against green plants or colorful flowers, making it a favorite for creating visual interest.

4. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

Switchgrass is a native prairie grass that brings sustainability and resilience to gardens. It grows in tight clumps, reaching up to 6 feet tall, and thrives in a variety of soil types. Its airy flower panicles and vibrant fall color make it a standout. Varieties like ‘Northwind’ have a more upright growth habit, while ‘Heavy Metal’ features metallic blue leaves.

5. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)

Japanese Forest Grass is a shade-loving ornamental grass that adds a unique texture and color to dark garden corners. Its cascading, bright green leaves turn shades of yellow and red in the fall. Reaching up to 18 inches in height, it’s perfect for softening hard edges or planting along pathways. ‘Aureola’ is a variegated cultivar with striking gold and green striped leaves.

Landscaping with these versatile plants not only elevates the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space but also supports a more sustainable garden ecosystem. Embrace the beauty and simplicity of ornamental grasses and watch your garden transform into a dynamic, textured landscape.

Using ornamental grasses successfully in your landscape can require a bit of planning and following of a few simple guidelines. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Balance Hard Landscaping Features

Many yards will have some hard landscape features. A large featureless wall on your home, a sidewalk, driveway, or even a pool. Grasses can be used to balance these out. You don’t need to completely hide these features to draw attention away from them. Accent them with soft, moving grasses. Plant grasses near decks and patios to provide interest. Plant grasses near fountains or statues for a dramatic look.

Seasonal Interest

Many of the available ornamental grasses will stay alive long after flowers and shrubs have lost their flowers or leaves. Ornamental Grasses tend to develop their colors and interest in the fall in our area, changing from green to burgundy and developing plumes as they turn to making seed. They can also work as a ground cover and keep down soil erosion and loss of moisture.


Ornamental Grasses can help to draw attention to areas that normally go unnoticed. Try planting them next to trees or flowers to compliment them and draw the eye. Grasses can help accent flower bed borders or add height to an existing bed. Plant grasses in unusual places to help showcase plants throughout your landscape

Pathways and Edging

Ornamental grasses can be planted close together to create natural pathways through your garden. They can be used to border a flower bed, sidewalk or driveway to ease transitions in the landscape.

Plant Containers

Ornamental grasses are often used as the “thriller” in container planting. Their longevity can provide a colorful and interesting display that will last all season long. After other plants in your container have died, the grasses can be transferred somewhere into your landscape and can be enjoyed on through the future.

Liven up the place!

Ornamental grasses can be planted to help add interesting textures and movement to an otherwise bland landscape. Use fluffy, flowing grasses next to evergreens or shrubs in your landscape. Plant several different types in one area to create an amazing display!

Privacy or Natural Borders

Plant taller species near a property line to produce a dramatic living privacy fence for your yard or to hide an existing structure. Grasses are also a great way to cover up eyesores around your area. Plant towards the back of a flower bed to create a backdrop for existing plants or a new planting.

Natural Habitat

Last but not least, grasses planted in and around your yard can provide an ideal place for nature’s creatures to hide and live. Butterflies, birds, and other small animals may seek clumps of grass for shelter or food.

Birds may be attracted to the seeds or seek shelter and materials for building nests from the grasses. Experiment with different kinds of ornamental and native grasses for these uses.

Be prepared to experiment with different types of grasses. As with many plants, some may or may not do well in your area.

There are many different types of grass you can try out. Ornamental, prairie type, and many smaller ground covers are available. There are hundreds of colors and textures and sizes to try out in different areas and uses in your yard.

The area I live in is usually limited as the selection but going online can make your choices much broader and you are bound to find one that fits the bill.

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