Grasses are a pleasure to garden with, allowing for a huge range of possibilities when it comes to landscaping. Ornamental grasses are attractive and versatile, and can easily be shaped to fit the needs of the landscaper. Usually able to tolerate a range of conditions, ornamental grasses can be used as a tool in a variety of landscaping projects.
Grasses are often used for lawns, but tall-growing clumping grasses can also be used to make borders. Rather than using a shrub to create a hedge, try ornamental grass for a softer look with more movement. Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis "Zebrinus") is a stunning grass that has striped blades, creating a pleasing contrast between green and creamy yellow. The plant can reach 7 feet tall and 10 feet wide if left to its own devices. Summer brings forth stalks of pinkish blooms. Zebra grass tolerates a range of soils, is drought-tolerant and will grow in full sun or partial shade.
For a low-maintenance lawn, or to fill in gaps between ornamental plants, weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides) is an excellent choice. Able to handle a fair amount of foot traffic and recreation, weeping grass can be used for pathways in a landscape or for a play area. The hardy plant is a lush bright green. Weeping grass is shade- and drought-tolerant and moderately salt-tolerant, making it a good option for gardeners living near the coast. Weeping grass can grow in a range of acidic soils, and the plant is frost-hardy.
Small ponds can be nicely accented with water-hungry ornamental grasses, adding a touch of greenery in the background. Chinese fountain grass (Pennisetum) is an excellent perennial ornamental grass that grows well in moist soils. The grass has long, thin green blades and feathery plumes in the summer. Native to China and Western Australia, Chinese fountain grass is fairly hardy and easy to grow, thriving in both full sun and partial shade provided there is enough water.