Ornamental grasses will bring the necessary contrast and elegant arrangement to your garden. Basically, they include plants within four leading families such as rushes, true grasses, reeds, and sedges. Think carefully before begin planting any of them since they spread differently and don’t have the same cultivation requirements.
The only way to become fully satisfied with the particular grass is to pick out the variety which fits best to a chosen space in your yard. Plus, the arrangement should be in harmony with your personality. Let’s make the right choice together.
Table of Contents
1. Pampas Grass
Tall and clumpy, Pampas grass from the family Poaceae is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It is well-known for its fluffy flower heads, which appear in autumn and stay firm during winter.
On average, this grass is 8 to 12 feet (2.4 – 3.6 m) tall. It grows in clumps which are approximately 3 to 5 feet (1 – 1.5 m) across, depending on the type you choose.
During a blooming period, you can enjoy their silver, white, cream, pink, or purple plumes of flowers which fade to dark brown over time. Even after the development of seeds and their spread, you will have stems full of old flowers which will beautify your garden in winter.
Be extremely careful with this grass. Even though many gardeners plant it because of its beauty, Pampas grass is actually noxious weeds. It spreads uncontrolled and often competes with desirable native species. Plus, wherever it occurs, it increases the risk of fire.
2. Japanese Blood Grass
Try to plant attractive Japanese blood grass (Red Baron) from the family Poaceae in full sun or partial shade. It usually grows up to 18 inches (46 cm) height. The greatest benefit of this grass is its beautiful white foliage which turns a magnificent dark red in the autumn.
This ornamental grass doesn’t require any special maintenance. It is enough cleaning up residues in early spring and let it grow vigorously during the next season.
Since it has no noticeable negative characteristics, you can plant this grass for different landscape applications, including general garden use, mass planting, or growing in a container.
To avoid uncontrolled spreading, you should burn pieces of the withered plant at the end of the season, and avoid adding them to the compost pile.
3. Giant Reed Grass
Giant reed grass originates from damp soils of the Mediterranean Basin, but you can find it in the Middle East as well. It is a bamboo-like perennial growing up to 19 feet (5.8 m) height.
If you need a perfect grass for your rain garden, Giant reed should be a grass of choice. Its blooms appear in late summer, but you can enjoy them until early autumn if you live in a region with a warmer climate.
Be careful while determining the right space for this grass since it spreads quite aggressively by self-seeding or underground stems. Prevent any inconvenience by cutting down seed plumes before releasing the seeds.
4. Purple Fountain Grass
Among the many advantages of Purple fountain grass, I like the fact that this 3 to 5 feet (0.9 – 1.5 m) tall plant attracts birds and requires low maintenance. Plus, this non-weedy hybrid is resistant to pests, diseases, as well as deer.
Provide full sun for at least 6 hours a day, and you will get the gorgeous maroon foliage throughout the season. In mid-summer, you will notice first rose-red plumes forms which will keep blooming throughout fall.
Nowadays, this grass is a trendy landscaping plant which will excellently look in your garden in combination with any plant with white, pink, or lavender flowers or foliage.
5. Desert Plains Fountain Grass
Approximately 48 inches (1.2 m) tall, Desert plains fountain grass is probably one of the most attractive and popular ornamental plants these days. This perennial is native to Australia and Asia.
I like its upright vase-shaped formation and the narrow green foliage, which transforms to deep red until mid-summer. It finally becomes orange and gold in fall when you can see new, 5 inches (13 cm) long yellowish-brown bottle-brush flower spikes.
Try to find an adequately sunny spot in the center of your garden for this warm-season, drought-tolerant plant resistant to deer. That way, you will enjoy beautiful leaves throughout the whole winter.
6. Golden Japanese Forest Grass
Golden Japanese forest grass is recognizable for its graceful, arching gold-striped foliage. You simply have to love this slowly-growing, clump-forming grass. In fact, the full beauty of this ornamental grass will be shown in whole shine in autumn when it turns orange and bronze.
You can plant this 12 to 18 inches (30.5 – 46 cm) tall grass along the edge of a driveway or in a container beautifying your porch. Keep in mind that you need to purchase seeds since this grass doesn’t produce viable ones.
Provide moist, well-drained soil for your plant and the proper exposure to the sun depending on the color of leaves you want to get. If you prefer lime green stripes, put your grass in full shade. Otherwise, if you wish to get the gold stripes on the green background, plant it in the corner of your garden with part shade.
7. Blue Fescue
Slender Blue fescue is an ornamental, semi-evergreen perennial from the Poaceae family with gorgeous wiry blades of blue. It forms 12 to 20 inches (30.5 – 51 cm) tall tight mounds with long flower stems and delicate pale-yellow flowers from May to July.
Even though this colorful, drought-tolerant grass prefers full sun, it won’t thrive if summers in the region you live in are blisteringly hot. In fact, extreme heat may cause the dieback of these lovely plants.
If the climate is ideal for its growth, you will enjoy this icy-blue foliage most of the year. Since this species won’t spread too much, you can plant clumps just 8 to 10 inches (20 – 25.5 cm) apart along edging borders.
8. Mexican Feather Grass
Mexican feather grass is 12 to 24 inches (30.5 – 61 cm) tall perennial from the family Poaceae. It originates from dry areas of the US, Argentina, and Mexico. Except you live in California, where this grass is considered invasive, you should plant it. It is worthy of becoming a part of your garden.
It is probably the most fine-textured plant you can grow in your garden. You will adore delicate, lime-green foliage of this plant, which forms a gorgeous fountain, and airy heads of its flowers.
You can expect the occurrence of light, golden seeds in May. Take care to control their spreading to avoid self-sowing. If you do the job well, the only thing remaining is to enjoy this lovely ornamental grass gracefully bending in the wind.
9. Blue Oat Grass
Blue oat grass from the family Poaceae is an evergreen perennial originates from Italy and France. It can grow approximately 3 to 6 feet (0.9 – 1.2 m) in height.
You can quickly identify its arching-shaped silver-blue blades. Plus, you will notice a recognizable light, bluish-brown flowers appearing in June. By autumn, flower spikelet will mature and get wheat-like gold color.
After establishing, this hardy grass is highly tolerant to drought, air pollution, and deer. It was best shown in the rocky gardens and along borders. Nowadays, this species is quite popular as an ornamental grass in landscaping and contemporary garden design.
10. The Blues Little Bluestem
The Blues little bluestem is 2 to 3 feet (61 – 91.5 cm) tall clumping grass with fantastic blue-green leaves which turns flaming orange or bronze in autumn.
This ornamental plant is actually North American native prairie grass. You can find it as native all over the US except in California, Oregon, and Nevada.
I like its delicate flower spikes with fluffy seed heads emerging above the leaves in autumn. If you divide your grass every three years in early spring, you will get an excellent cover for the ground. It is a perfect solution if you have a rocky garden.
This drought-tolerant plant is highly beneficial for many birds which eat its seeds, as well as for many butterfly species.
11. Morning Light Miscanthus
If you are one of the gardeners who prefer ornamental grasses in your garden, don’t miss the unique beauty of Morning light Miscanthus. Since this deciduous 4 to 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m) tall grass is incredibly easy to grow, it is an ideal solution for novices.
Green foliage blades with thin, white margins and mid-veins creating a bright glare, make this grass eye-catching. However, be careful since leaf edges are sharp and may make painful cuts on the skin.
I like the spectacular reddish-bronze plumes appearing in late autumn which becomes creamy-colored and fluffy when the seeds mature. Plant this magnificent grass in front of your house and enjoy throughout the year.
The great thing is that Morning light can tolerate air pollution, erosion, and drought. Rabbits and deer avoid this grass thanks to its razor-sharp foliage, but it is highly attractive to birds.
12. Toffee Twist Sedge
With elegant, mahogany foliage, Toffee twist sedge is one of the most beautiful ornamental grasses you can purchase for your garden. Well, even though this plant is not a true grass, most gardeners plant it in that purpose.
This cool-season perennial is perfect greenery to add along walkway or borders of your yard. However, you can plant it in a container as well. Without any doubt, these graceful, shimmering, cascading blades will beautify your porch.
Mature plants reach from 18 to 24 inches (46 – 61 cm) in height, and you can expect them to live for seven years on average. Provide at least 6 hours of full sun for your plants and trim them before new growth begins in spring. That way, your beauty will thrive without too many additional demands.
13. Prairie Sky Switchgrass
Outstanding and elegant steel-blue clumps of Prairie sky switchgrass often reach 6 feet (1.8 m) in height. However, you can also choose lower plants up to 4 feet (1.2 m) high if you wish.
The unique color of this outstanding leaves will change to gorgeous yellowish-gold in autumn and light-brown in winter. However, the elegant form of an arching clump will stay intact throughout the year.
You will love its deep red seed heads, which form gently pink clouds above the foliage in summer. They will linger into mid-winter but expect them to fade to beige over time.
To get the best effect, pick out a very sunny part of your yard for these exotic deciduous plants. If you regularly trim your grass in spring, you can expect new, healthy growth during the next season as well.
Every time you look at this attractive foliage, you can imagine the Great Plains covered with this marvelous grass for centuries. From my point of view, it is an excellent way to connect with the pioneers who were the first white people having the opportunity to enjoy this beauty.
To arrange your yard correctly, you need to plant different varieties of ornamental grasses. The key is in the right choice of plant’s height. For example, you should use higher, approximately 5 to 12 feet (1.5 – 3.6 m) tall, grass types as a background.
They should be a base of your garden structure regardless of whether you plant them to stand there alone or become a part of an arrangement.
Mid-size types of ornamental grasses will help you create a second line of plants, which provide a harmony of the formation you have planned. In the end, there are small, tufted varieties of grass you should use to add necessary, lush decoration to your garden.