Ornamental grasses are a staple of low-maintenance gardens. They put up with poor soils and drought, and with a range of sizes (from 6-inch ground covers to 15-foot focal-point plants), it’s easy to find a spot for them. The buff-colored seedheads of ‘Karl Foerster’ feather-reed grass make a fine companion for burning bush as it turns color in the fall.
Use a colorful ornamental grass to add vertical interest to a planter. While the purple fountain grass grows up, a similarly colored sweet potato vine cascades downward. Bergenia and blue-green artemisia finish the foliage show. They’re joined by the blooms of orange lantana and yellow pansies, which reflect the pumpkin and squash hues.
In addition to contributing to container gardens and landscapes, ornamental grasses work well in dried arrangements. It’s a smart way to use a tall variety and literally cut it down to size. Dried Miscanthus seedheads back up a seasonal display of mums, ornamental kale, rabbit’s-foot fern, and asparagus fern.
Grasses Wall Art
Even when grasses are through outdoors, you can enjoy them inside all year long with this colorful piece of art. Real stalks of grass contribute to the delicate design you can spray-paint in a weekend.
Designing with Grasses
- Plant grasses in odd-number clusters for a more natural look.
- Use tall grasses as focal points; surround them with shorter companions to mask the base.
- Cluster small grasses around rocks and boulders for a scene that looks good year-round.
- Choose a dark backdrop, such as evergreens, to contrast with buff foliage in fall and winter.
- Leave grasses standing for winter interest (and to feed birds). Cut at the base in late winter to allow for new growth.
- Divide grasses every three to four years to keep them vigorous. If you see a ring of growth around a dead center, it’s time to divide plants.