Care of Ornamental Grasses

Overview

Ornamental grasses are not true grasses, but instead are relatives of the true grass family, Gramineae. Many different species of ornamental grasses exist, nearly all of which are extremely adaptable, tolerant of poorer soils, and low-maintenance. Ornamental grasses come in a wide range of heights, textures and colors. You can use ornamental grasses for many different purposes in your landscape, from specimen plantings, borders, beds, erosion control, and hillside plantings, as well as ground cover plants.

Step 1

Water your ornamental grasses in the first year after planting them deeply and thoroughly one to three times per week during the spring, summer and early autumn, depending on the plant species. Water established ornamental grasses once per week only during times of drought or prolonged dry spells.

Step 2

Feed your ornamental grass once each year in early spring with 1/2 to 1 lb. of 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer per 100 square feet. Select a slow-release fertilizer and water it in thoroughly.

Step 3

Remove weeds from around the ornamental grass by hand-pulling or hoeing once every week or two. Alternatively, you can spread a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of mulch around the ornamental grasses to control weeds and preserve soil moisture.

Step 4

Cut back the ornamental grasses to about 4 to 6 inches above the ground level in spring, just before new growth begins.

Step 5

Treat your ornamental grasses for the occasional pest, such as mites or aphids. Spray the grasses with a forceful stream of water from a hose to knock the insects off the plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always choose the right ornamental grass species for the location. Many ornamental grasses are appropriate for dry or desert-like sites or xeriscaping, while other species are appropriate for only moist to wet garden sites. If you select the right type of ornamental grass for the location, the plants will thrive with little to no care.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Slow-release 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer
  • Hoe
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Shovel

References

  • Colorado State University Extension: Ornamental Grasses
  • Illinois State University Cooperative Extension: Care & Maintenance of Ornamental Grasses

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: How to Grow and Care for Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: grow ornamental grasses, ornamental grass care, maintain ornamental grass

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.