How to Choose Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grasses come in many shapes and sizes, from small ground cover like blue fescue to towering strands of bamboo. They add a unique point of interest to any garden, be it as a centerpiece or breaking up clumps of flowers or other plants. Choosing ornamental grasses for your garden should be a fun activity. If you want to choose ornamental grasses for your garden be sure to follow a few simple steps and the process will be simple.

Step 1

Find out what USDA zone you live in. You need to know what sort of ornamental grasses will survive in your climate. Choosing ornamental grasses that grow well in your area will be easier than growing those that do not. Cool season grasses grow best in cool climates and remain evergreen throughout the winter. Warm season grasses are drought tolerant, although they do not wake from dormancy until the weather warms up.

Step 2

Test your soil's pH and your soil type. This will help you determine how to best improve your soil if it is less than suitable for ornamental grasses. Choose ornamental grasses that require the least amount of work to plant in your garden.

Step 3

Consider the size of ornamental grasses. If you have a large area you would like to fill in, choose ornamental grasses that cover the area. However, if you just want the ornamental grasses to be used as a border or to fill in small bald spots in your garden, choose smaller ornamental grasses.

Step 4

Consider year-round interest. Do you want ornamental grasses that have interest most of the year or only part of the year? If you live in a mild or warm climate, year-round interest with ornamental grasses is easier to achieve than if you live in a cold climate.

Step 5

Consider the color and texture of ornamental grasses. What color do you want to add to your garden? What color would blend well with the other plants in your garden? Do you want ornamental grasses with interesting textures like perennial fountain grass---or do you just want something to add background interest to your flowers?

Step 6

Consider the ornamental grasses maintenance. Do you want to have to separate or prune your ornamental grasses? Warm season grasses are easier to care for in the long run, although if you live in a cool climate they will be around for less of the year. Cool season grasses last longer, but they require more work.

Tips and Warnings

  • Spreading ornamental grasses can be invasive in a garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Kit for pH testing
  • Ornamental grasses guide


  • Ornamental Grasses Basics
  • Choosing an Ornamental Grass
  • Ornamental Grasses

Who Can Help

  • Types of Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: choosing ornamental grasses, choose ornamental grasses, ornamental grasses

About this Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor for many online publications. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.