How to Landscape With Ornamental Grasses

Overview

Ornamental grasses are a good addition to any garden, complementing flowering shrubs and bulbs. Ornamental grasses move gracefully in the wind and attract birds and butterflies to your garden. There are so many varieties you can group them together in a separate garden area or add them to existing planting areas as accent or background plants.

Step 1

Decide on the size of the grasses you want to plant. Ornamental grasses (fountain grass, miscanthus) are tall like shrubs, or plant low, clumping grasses (oat grass or small fountain grasses) along borders.

Step 2

Consider sun exposure. Ornamental grasses like full sun, but they will grow in light shade. The flower spikes that add beauty and color to fountain and reed grasses grow in sunny garden areas.

Step 3

Plan to put grasses in areas that have the correct water available. Native grasses are drought tolerant and should not be watered once they are established. Water-tolerant grasses (juncus) are a good choice for fountain areas.

Step 4

Encourage birds to visit your garden by planting tall grasses near bird baths and bird feeders. Birds eat the seeds in the fall. Grasses provide year-round shelter for wildlife.

Step 5

Create a hedge with tall reed grasses or miscanthus varieties, which will form a thick wall that moves in the wind and provides privacy.

Step 6

Visit a nursery with a good selection of ornamental grasses, and choose grasses that complement other plants in your garden. They can be a background for flowers or can create a focal point in an area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some ornamental grasses are invasive species. Be sure to find out which ones are invasive in your area when selecting plants. You can find good information on enature.com. If you plant a grass that is not native to your area, find out its water requirements.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden design books and magazines featuring ornamental grasses

References

  • Designing with Grasses
  • How Grasses Grow
  • Ornamental Grasses

Who Can Help

  • Native Gardening and Invasive Plants Guide
  • Grasses - several article links
  • Growing Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: ornamental grasses, landscaping with grasses, native grasses, drying ornamental grass flowers

About this Author

Kathleen Sonntag lives in Carmel, California, where she is a writer, teacher and editor. She is a Master Gardener and writes articles for gardening publications. Sonntag has written and edited reading test passages and has edited children's books, cookbooks and memoirs. Her articles appear on GardenGuides.com. Sonntag holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.