Using Ornamental Grasses to Enhance Your Landscape

Fall is definitely a great time for planting. As we decide on what to plant, most of us think of flowering perennials, trees and shrubs. But as you consider your choices, consider perennial grasses.

Here are 3 reasons to use grasses to enhance your landscape.

1. They can help to soften or hide unwanted hard elements in the landscape.

In the photo above, you can see the grass added to soften a hardscape element. We have an above ground propane tank that provides fuel for our fireplace. Planting 3 Striped Zebra Grasses (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) hides the tank quiet well and softens the entire view.

2. They can provide an accent or backdrop to a garden bed.

Grasses can grow quite large and provide a natural “wall” at the edge of bed

We’ve used another Miscanthus at the rear of a deep garden bed to creates a border at the edge of our woods. The grass also softens the edge of our shed in this area.

3. They provide interest throughout the fall and winter.

Because the grasses bloom in late summer, they provide interest at a time when other plants are no longer flowering. I like to leave the plumes in place for wonderful winter interest.


Getting Started

So how do you get started? First, be sure to know your hardiness zone. Not all grasses grow everywhere. You can do your research on which grasses you want to grow before going to the nursery or enlist the staff’s help before you get there. They should be able to tell you which grasses are hardy in your area. While you can plant grasses as annuals, you will get much more value for your money by planting grasses that come back year after year. A few things to note - be sure to know how much sunlight the spot receives during the day and the size of the space.

Some grasses can grow quite large both in height and span a large area quickly. Others grow more slowly. Take a quick measurement of your spot before going shopping.

Caring for Your Grasses

Most ornamental grasses are pretty tough. Be sure to check with the nursery on care tips for the type of grass you purchase. Most of the larger grasses do well with cutting all of the way back to a low mound in spring. It’s important to remove the previous season’s growth to ensure good growth throughout the spring and summer.

Grasses are a great addition to any garden. Try planting a few this fall to add interest and texture to your landscape.


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