Ornamental Grasses, 10 Great Ones For Your Sunny Garden

This month we would like to share

with you some good information on Ornamental Grasses; a very exciting category of landscape plants that has been on an upward trend for two decade now.

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Panicum ‘Northwind’ – Growing to 60″, Thick green foliage turns yellow in fall, Dense seed heads in September.)

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Chasmanthium – Northern Sea Oats – Growing to 36″, Attractive seed heads turn copper in fall, Tolerates partial sun)

 

Considering the broad variety of plant sizes, forms, colors, and textures that are now available for the home landscape, most professional designers would advise you to seek out ornamental plants that possess two or more of the most desirable plant qualities; showy flowers, easy maintenance, textural foliage, fall color, and winter interest.

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Molinia ‘Moorflamme’ – Growing to 28″, Sort clump of foliage turning gold in fall, Good in irrigated beds)

 

With these features in mind, it’s no wonder that Ornamental Grasses have become a plant favorite of many gardeners and landscape designers.  Ornamental grasses possess all or most of these desirable qualities, and have many structural and decorative uses in the residential landscape.

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ – Growing to 15″, Golden foliage in weeping clumps, Tolerates light shade, Pinkish hue in fall.)

 

  • Grasses put on a wonderful flower display during the summer and fall atop sturdy spikes that rise above the foliage and sway in the summer breezes.
  • Grasses are generally drought tolerant after they have been established, and rarely are affected by diseases or pests.
  • The foliage of grasses provide a high textural contrast to the more common broadleaf ornamentals usually found in the garden.
  • Many grasses turn bold shades of burgundy, rust and gold in the fall, combining nicely with the trees and shrubs that are generally preferred for their fall color.
  • Finally, most grasses can be left standing following dormancy to wave in the early winter winds, and provide the foundation for beautiful natural snow sculptures.

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Calamagrostis ‘Brachytricha’ – Korean Reed Grass – Growing to 42″, Airy plumes late in summer, Tolerates partial shade.)

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ – Growing to 60″, Rigid upright form hold up in winter, Early flowering variety.)

 

Ornamental grasses have proven themselves to be some of the most versatile, beautiful, and durable plants in the garden.  Their uses range from being vertical accent pieces like the ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass (calamagrostis acutiflora) A 48″ cool season native with wheat colored flower heads which tolerates drought and poor clay soils (sound familiar?), to being a mounding foundation plant like the Prairie Dropseed (sporobolus heterolepis) An upright arching, late summer bloomer growing to 36″ with its fragrant flowers and golden fall color.  There are even certain varieties that can be used as strong architectural specimens like the Maiden Grass (Miscanthus ‘Silver Feather’) growing 84″ tall, this grass has a very fluffy silver flower head and a rich blend of purple, red and gold fall color.

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Sporobolus – Prairie Dropseed – Growing to 28″, Arching airy seed heads, Turning rust color in fall, Native to mid-west.)

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Miscanthus ‘Silver Feather’ – Growing to 84″, Fluffy silver flower head in September, Excellent fall color.)

 

Because ornamental grasses have such a considerable interest level in the fall garden, good companion plants will also have fall highlights.  Try using grasses near colorful woody plants like Maple, Burning Bush, Serviceberry, Oak and Viburnum.  Accent the garden with New England Asters, Chocolate Joe Pyeweed, and purple varieties of the succulent Sedum like ‘Black Jack’.

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Schizachyrium – Little Blue Stem – Growing to 28″, Blue-green foliage turning red-bronze in fall, Mid-west native.)

 

Ornamental Grasses by a Libertyville Landscape Designer and Installer

(Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ – Growing to 24″, Slender foliage arches into fountain mounds, Bottlebrush plumes in late summer.)