There is more to the grass family of plants than the turf grasses used for lawns. Ornamental grasses grow taller, produce more noticeable flowers and add a casual element to a garden. Grass plants are available for all areas of the garden, including the water features, and some are tall enough to form a barrier or to hide a fence. Use smaller choices as container plants for around the pool or patio. The plants do well in large containers with other plants.
Bowles' Golden Sedge
Bowles' golden sedge (Carex elata "Aurea") grows from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and the same in width. The plant produces yellow leaves with dark-green margins and brown flowers that bloom in May and June. Bowles' golden sedge is partial to full shade and a moist, fertile soil. The plant will grow in water that is 2 to 3 inches deep. Plant near streams and around ponds or in the garden as long as the plant gets moisture. Bowles' golden sedge is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9.
Giant miscanthus (Miscanthus floridulus) is also known as giant eulalia grass, Japanese silver grass and Amur silver grass. The plant grows up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide and is used in large landscaping plans as a screen or a stand-alone specimen plant and, since it can tolerate salty conditions, in a seaside garden. The plant produces flat leaves that grow up to 3 feet long and 1 1/2 inches wide arching outward from the central stems. The leaves turn russet and beige in the winter. Silky, silver-colored plumes bloom in late summer or fall, growing 18 to 20 inches long on stems taller than the leaves. Plant giant miscanthus in full sun and a moist, well-drained soil. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. The longer and hotter the summer, the more the plant will flower.
Frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus) is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. The plant grows from 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide. The plant resembles bamboo with leaves that develop a purple or wine-colored tint late in the season. Flowers grow from 3 to 4 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches long on stalks that grow 14 to 18 inches taller than the leaves. The flowers bloom from July through February. Use the plant in small gardens and as a border plant. Plant frost grass in full sun or partial shade and a moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Oriental Fountain Grass
Oriental fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale) grows in a clump with leaves reaching 1 foot tall. White or pink fluffy flowers grow in clusters from 1 to 2 feet taller than the leaves and bloom in the summer and fall. Use oriental fountain grass as a border plant, in a mass planting or as a stand-alone specimen plant. Plant in full sun in the cooler zones and in partial shade in the hotter. The plant likes a moist and well-drained soil and is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 10.