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12 Ornamental Grasses for Landscaping

Ornamental grasses are essential when it comes to tying a landscape together. Bringing different textures and motion to a landscape, these grasses bring the landscape to life, creating a soothing mood for your outdoor sanctuary. Whether it is the silvery shimmer of a Sweet Bay Magnolia blowing in the breeze or the silver sway of the Maiden Grass, a landscape without such motion will lack that extra dimension and serenity.


1. Liriope muscari ‘Aztec Grass’


Aztec Grass has come onto the scene as a better alternative to the traditional variegated Liriope. Aztec Grass is more silvery in appearance, compared to the yellow variegated variety. Aztec Grass also works great as a border, mass planting or as a container accent plant. Plant it in a shady area or a rock garden. This grass also tolerates poor soil and requires little to no maintenance. It slowly sends out underground rhizomes, making it a moderately slow growing groundcover.


2. Monkey Grass, Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’


This clumping grass is hardy throughout most of the United States. Big Blue is an evergreen grass in southern states and may need to be cut back with the lawn mower further north. Big Blue blooms lavender flowers in summer and grows in full sun to partial shade. This grass also tolerates animals and poor soil.


3. Variegated Monkey Grass, Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’


This plant struggles with full sun and extreme heat. Cut back with the mower or weedeater if brown tips appear. Variegata makes a great border grass and also makes quite a statement in a mass planting. Its unique color adds a unique look to the landscape as well as a change of texture.


4. Dwarf Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’

 Image result for dwarf fountain grass hameln "home depot"

Dwarf Fountain grass is much hardier than its relative, Purple Fountain Grass that is considered to be an annual in most of the states. Dwarf Fountain grass is a perennial grass throughout most of the United States. It gets loaded with tan plumes and only growing 2 to 3 foot tall, it won’t overwhelm the area in which you put it. Like so many ornamental grasses, this grass looks great in rock gardens and dry creek beds. This grass has great drought tolerance but can also tolerate moist areas too.


5. Purple Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’


This annual grass makes a great backdrop for annual beds or accents for large planters. Its purple colored grass and burgundy plumes. This annual prefers full sun and will grow 3 to 4 feet tall. This plant is only considered a perennial in zones 9 and 10.


6. Maiden Grass, Miscanthus seninsis ‘Gracillimus’


This tight clumping grass has a brilliant soft texture and unique green and silver foliage. Maiden grass grows well in full sun and well drained soil. Do not prune back until late winter, as the foliage and plumes bring an interesting look in the winter and provide protection to the plant, against the cold. Maiden grass which grows to be 6 to 7 feet tall, also comes in a dwarf variety which grows 3 to 4 feet tall.


7. Zebra Grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Zebra’


This grass is very adaptable in many soil types. Full sun is recommended and moist soil is preferred. Do not prune grass back until February, right before new grass is to appear.’ Little Zebra’ Grass holds a tight shape like Dwarf Maiden Grass, making it reasonable for smaller spaces. It also comes in a taller variety, ‘Zebrinus’, which can grow 6 to 8 feet tall.


8. Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia caprillaris ‘Lenca’


This soft looking airy grass puts on an amazing show in late summer, almost appearing to smoke with its pink blooms. Plant them in mass plantings for an incredible display. Full sun is preferable and plant in well drained, moist soil although they have good drought tolerance. Muhly can grow to 4 feet tall and are hardy in zones 6 to 9.


9. Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana

 Image result for pampas grass home depot

This grass, once established, could stop a runaway tractor trailer. Be sure that you are selective with your spot because removal is not really an option. This grass is awesomely awful, therefore it made the list. This grass should be used as a screen to block out neighbors but never in front of the house or at the ends of driveways. The blades are like razor-wire, therefore removal is treacherous. Pampas has some of the biggest, most beautiful plumes, often tricking people. Pampas can get 10 feet tall and dwarf can still reach 6 to 7 feet.


10. Blue Fescue, Festuca glauca


Blue Fescue is a short, clumping ornamental grass that looks great as a mass planting or as a border grass. This evergreen grass also has good drought tolerance once it is established. Blue Fescue grows to about 1 foot tall and 1 foot wide and often is used as a groundcover or in rock gardens and around dried creek beds as well. The unique blue color helps it stand out, no matter what the application.


11. Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus


This tropical herb has come onto the scene very quickly and is becoming so popular for its citrus taste and many culinary uses. These roots can usually survive winters in zone 8b but really thrives in zones 10 through 11 as an evergreen. Lemongrass needs full sun but can be overwintered inside on a south facing window if your climate gets too cold. The stalks of lemongrass are ready for harvest once they are 1 foot tall and ½ inch round. Plant lemongrass in a well-drained soil, with full sun. How To Grow Lemongrass?



12. Fireworks Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’

Of course an ornamental grass with this kind of brilliant color would be an annual grass throughout most of the United States. Like ‘rubrum’, Fireworks is grown primarily as an annual. Although cold hardy from zone 9 to 11 ‘Fireworks’ makes a great plant for planters or a backdrop of an annual bed. Be sure to plant in a well-drained soil in the full sun. Its plumes have just as brilliant of a color as the grass itself and blooms in the summer.

Trimming back ornamental grasses

As far as evergreen grasses are concerned, you can trim the brown tips off them in the spring, once the low temperatures are above 55 degrees. As far as the grasses that go dormant in the winter, you will want to cut them completely back in early spring, after the threat of frost is gone. With either grass it is alright to tidy it up any time if it gets unruly. Annual grasses like Purple Fountain and Fireworks Pennisetum I would not recommend cutting completely back due to the short growing season. Ornamental grasses are the most forgiving plants, as they will come back for you just about any time you cut them down.

Fertilizing ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses should only be fertilized during the active growing season. This means that if the low temperatures are below 55 degrees, then you should not be fertilizing. A well balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 would be a good option for ornamental grasses in the spring.

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Posted 2015-07-16T20:05:22+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL