How to Plant Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grasses can be an aesthetically pleasing and relatively carefree addition to any garden. While they may be grown from seed, for uniformity's sake it is a good idea to plant small plants purchased at the nursery. Ornamental grasses are best planted in the spring, and come in two varieties: clump growers (such as blue fescue or blue oat grass) and spreaders (such as ribbon grass). Maintenance is simple: an annual haircut in the fall, after the growing season, and regular watering.

Step 1

Prepare the ground by raking it to a depth of 3 inches and removing all debris, old plant matter, rocks and roots. Add just a small amount of general-purpose plant fertilizer, no more than 1 lb. for every 100 square feet.

Step 2

Sprinkle on a layer of topsoil, to a depth of about 1 inch.

Step 3

Space plants the same distance as their mature height. Blue fescue, for example, reaches a height of about 1 foot, so plant clumps 1 foot apart.

Step 4

Remove ornamental grass plants from containers and lay aside. Dig holes for plants as deep as their root systems. Gently spread apart roots with your fingers and position in the hole.

Step 5

Pour topsoil into the hole and distribute around the plant, making sure the soil goes through the roots. Pat down and leave a small indentation at the top so water can collect during watering for better penetration.

Tips and Warnings

  • Stick with plants that grow in clumps, as opposed to spreading grasses like ribbon grass. If you do plant ribbon grass, plant in a location where it can't overrun your garden, like between a walkway and a fence, or plant in a container and bury the container in the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • General-purpose (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Topsoil
  • Measuring tape
  • Ornamental grass plants
  • Shovel
  • Water


  • Flower Gardening Made Easy
  • How to Plant Ornamental Grasses, YouTube
  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: planting ornamental grasses, how to plant ornamental grasses, growing ornamental grasses

About this Author

Thomas K. Arnold is the publisher and editorial director of Home Media Magazine and a regular contributor on entertainment to "USA Today", "The Hollywood Reporter," "San Diego Magazine" and other publications. An alumnus of San Diego State University, Arnold has appeared on such TV shows as "CNN", "E! Entertainment" and "G4's Attack of the Show" to discuss home entertainment and technology issues.