Ornamental grasses are sometimes overlooked as plants that can add interest to a landscape, but the foliage and flower plumes they produce will add a pop. Most ornamental grasses have arching foliage and several species have attractive foliage color. The foliage can provide seasonal interest with rich colors in the fall and winter.
Ornamental grasses can be used many ways in the landscape. Many species can stand alone, but can also be attractive when several are placed together in a group. Combining different types of ornamental grasses in a group can also make a nice attraction in your landscape. Some of the larger ornamental grasses work well as a screening plant for privacy. Ornamental grasses can also work well on slopes or eroded areas where other plants may struggle.
One of the biggest advantages of ornamental grasses is that they are low maintenance. The two important things to remember when selecting a location for ornamental grasses is that they need full sun and well-drained soils. Pruning is probably the biggest chore with ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses are typically cut back in late winter before new growth begins. If not pruned, the old foliage left on the plant can delay new, spring growth by as much as two weeks.
Ornamental grasses usually do not need much fertilizer. Fertilizer can be applied in late spring when new growth begins to appear. A general fertilizer recommendation would be to use 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. For clump type grasses, use 1 to 1 1/2 cups per established plant. For ground cover types, use 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.
Another advantage of ornamental grasses is that they are very durable plants. Ornamental grasses will tolerate heat and drought. Ornamental grasses also have little pest problems in that they are highly resistant to insects and diseases.
Ornamental grass species come in various sizes ranging from 10 to 15 feet while there are species that are considered dwarf plants. Ornamental grasses also have various foliage color and textures.
Here is a highlight of some ornamental grasses that are popular and can be utilized in the landscape:
That is just a few of the many ornamental grasses that can be used in the landscape. With ornamental grass being low maintenance and typically pest-free, but yet providing a nice interest in the landscape or garden, they are a plant to not pass up.
Jessica Strickland is an agriculture extension agent specializing in horticulture for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.
Upcoming Wayne County Extension Gardening Programs