How to Clump Ornamental Grasses in the Shade


The beauty of ornamental grasses lies in this plant's ability to mask areas of the landscape from view. Low-lying ornamental grass grows beautifully in dry soil, making this plant the perfect choice for sloped, shady areas. Choose a shade-tolerant ornamental grass such as mondo grass or liriope. Very few grasses thrive in deep shade, although quite a few grow well in partial shade. Check the planting label provided by the garden center before choosing a shady location for clumping ornamental grass. Learning how to create the desired mounding look involves placing plants close enough together to allow mature growth space as well as draping foliage to cover the planting area.

Step 1

Purchase a flat or selection of larger clumping ornamental grass plants that can be separated for planting over a wide area. Look for plants with undamaged foliage and moistened soil in the nursery plant pots. Don't purchased plants with dried leaves or those with exposed roots.

Step 2

Create the proper planting environment by turning the top 6 to 8 inches of garden soil in preparation for planting the ornamental grass. Use a shovel, hoe or cultivator to perform this task. Be careful of shallow tree roots if planting in areas under the shady canopy of a large tree.

Step 3

Dump a 2 to 3 inch layer of peat moss on top of the garden surface and mix this organic material into the soil using a cultivator or hoe. Smooth the garden surface with a rake and lightly water the surface to limit the fluffiness of the peat moss, if necessary.

Step 4

Dig individual holes spaced 6 to 12 inches apart, depending on the thickness of the desired ground cover. Divide larger plants into sections containing eight or more leaves. Plants split easily by separating leaves and pulling downward to pull apart the roots.

Step 5

Place one plant in each hole and fill in with amended soil. Firm the soil around the plant completely and water the ornamental grass thoroughly at the ground level. A soaker hose works well to moderately moisten the soil to a 6- to 8-inch depth.

Step 6

Apply a light 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to the garden surface to retain water for optimum root health. This option creates a manicured look in the ornamental grass garden until the grass matures and fills in with larger clumps.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Cultivator
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Multiple grass plants
  • Garden hose and water
  • Mulch


  • University of Kentucky: Ornamental Grasses for Kentucky Landscapes
  • Colorado State University: Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: clumping ornamental grass, ornamental grass, planting ornamental grass

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.