Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses

By Kate Torpie, Garden Guides Contributor

About Ornamental Grasses

There are many different kinds of ornamental grasses. They are great fillers in a garden, as different varieties grow during different seasons. The ease of caring for them, as well as their versatility, has made them a very popular landscape feature. Best of all, they are perennials.

Site Preparation

Soil needs to be prepared well in advance of planting. In fact, a good tilling of the soil in fall is helpful. This allows the soil to freeze and thaw more, and it makes it easier to work with come spring. Of course, in spring, you should also till the area. Make sure you choose a spot with good drainage. Add some fertilizer, enough to cover the area, and till that into the soil when preparing.


You can plant ornamental grasses in spring or fall. But no matter what type of grass you choose, you are better off planting in the spring, so that the plant has time to firmly root before winter's chill comes. Plant them in holes as deep as they previously grew in. Fill the hole around with a good potting soil. Water immediately.


During their first year, water the grasses liberally to help it establish a good root base. After that, you can pretty much leave care to nature. During droughts, of course, watering is advisable. Weed around the grass. Each spring, apply some fertilizer. That will be enough for the entire summer.

Choosing a Variety

Some grasses grow in warm seasons, and some in cool seasons. Some grow in bunches, and others spread along through runners. Cool season grasses will begin growing in early spring, when it is still too cool for other plants; some even stay green during the winter months. They require more watering in summer than warm season grasses. The warm season grasses do well in hot, even dry climates. They require extensive trimming each spring. If you are using a grass as a filler, you'll need to figure out what time of year the rest of your garden will be bare. You should also consider how the grass grows. Those with runners can invade the rest of your garden. If a grass doesn't grow with runners, it will form a round "clump" that for the most part keeps to itself.

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