How to Garden Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grass provides wonderful contrast to the home landscape with simple frond-like leaves and foliage. Decorative grasses are a popular mainstay in residential gardens to add texture, color and height to the garden. These hardy plants provide interesting foliage during the growing season as well as adding interest to the winter landscape. Learning how to garden ornamental grasses requires minimal effort on the part of the homeowner to enjoy the dramatic landscaping benefit of these hardy plants.

Step 1

Create a firm foundation for new ornamental grass plants by preparing the soil before planting. Turn over the top 6 to 8 inches of mix by digging deeply with a spade shovel. Flip over the soil in the planting area and break up large clumps of dirt.

Step 2

Apply a 2-inch layer of peat moss or compost to the planting area. Mix the soil additive into the dirt by turning over the dirt a second time. Adding compost or peat to the soil improves the draining ability of soil and provides essential nutrients for plant roots.

Step 3

Dig a hole roughly 2 times the size of the plastic container. Add 1 inch of peat or compost to the bottom of the hole.

Step 4

Remove the plant from its container by pressing firmly around the outside of the plastic pot. Spin the pot as you press against the sides to loosen the soil. If you cannot remove the plant, cut the container with pruning clippers to remove the plant. Always grasp the plant close to the top of the root ball to prevent damaging the foliage.

Step 5

Place the ornamental grass into the hole. Add or remove soil to position the top of the root ball 2 inches below the soil surface. Fill in with remaining dirt and firm by stepping on the soil to remove air pockets.

Step 6

Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the ornamental grass to keep soil temperatures uniform and to improve water retention.

Step 7

Water around the base of the plant to allow water to soak down into the roots.

Step 8

Give the grass a haircut in the spring, preferably before new shoots appear in the center of the plant. Trim ornamental grass to 6 inches from the soil level using loppers for smaller plants or a chair saw or hedge clippers for large plants. Wear protective gloves and a long--sleeved shirt because many ornamental grasses have extremely sharp foliage.

Step 9

Rake or pull all clippings from around the ornamental grass plant. These clippings can become a home for garden pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Pruning loppers
  • Chain saw
  • Hedge clippers
  • Rake


  • Colorado State University Extension
  • University of Missouri Extension
Keywords: ornamental grasses, gardening ornamental grass, planting decorative grass

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.