Landscaping With Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grasses differ from lawn grasses in many ways. For instance, ornamental grasses do not require weekly mowing like their turfgrass relatives. Ornamental grasses perform well in a variety of landscape functions. These plants enhance neglected areas and supply variety to yards and parks. Tall specimens add interest as focal points or living screens. Ornamental grasses, with their carefree nature, often become invasive in landscapes, spreading beyond their intended boundaries and into neighboring areas of lawns and plants.

Step 1

Sketch a simple layout of your existing landscape. Mark out your yard's boundary lines and traffic areas, such as walkways from your house to your garden and from your porch to your mailbox. Draw in any existing plants and trees. Determine which areas require fencing or screening, as well as which areas look bare. Use mass plantings of ornamental grasses in these areas.

Step 2

Plant tall varieties of ornamental grasses near your boundary lines. Use tall grasses to block your view of an unsightly structure, alley or neighboring yard. Choose specimens like giant reed grass and eulalia grass to block the view of areas outside your landscape. Plant these in rows to form long screens.

Step 3

Install small, ornamental grasses in front of flowerbeds and inside rock gardens. Use short grasses in place of other, high-maintenance groundcovers. Use varieties that do not spread, such as sweet flag, in areas with other plants. Place spreading varieties of ornamental grasses in areas away from other types of groundcovers. Attractive spreading grasses to use for groundcovers include lily turf and ribbon grass.

Step 4

Plant ornamental grass in bare areas. Use pampas grass or giant reed grass to provide focal points in open spaces. Install underground barriers to keep these grasses from spreading. Keep grasses from spreading into your lawn and nearby plants by placing vertical barriers between their roots and the rest of your landscape. Purchase these weed barriers from your gardening center or landscaping store.

Step 5

Use containers to accent ornamental grasses. Ribbon grass and purple-leaved foxtail grass are suitable for containers as they have aggressive root systems, according to the University of Vermont Extension. Choose pots that allow space for spreading and drainage. Select colorful planters and containers that contrast with your potted grasses. Line your patio or porch with a variety of container grasses.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Weed barriers
  • Pots


  • University of Vermont Extension: Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses
  • University of Tennessee: Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape (PDF)
  • Iowa State University: An Alternative to Common Landscape Plants: Ornamental Grasses

Who Can Help

  • Bluestem Nursery: Landscape Uses for Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: ornamental grass, landscape plants, grass

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.