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Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape

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.
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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