Star of stage and screen. Grasses are adept at directing the eye where you want it to go. For example, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grasses (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) screen the view beyond and serve as a backdrop when staging plants such as these coleus.
Commanding presence. Many ornamental grasses are known for their impressive size, which bodes well for anyone looking for instant impact. These large grasses — ranging from 5–12 feet or more — captivate from a distance. They also provide quick privacy.
A size for every occasion. Fortunately, there are plenty of modest-sized grasses available for smaller yards. These blue fescue grasses (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’) grow only 8 inches tall. They’re paired here with Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrical ‘Rubra’), which grows just 16 inches tall.
Day brightener. Variegated grasses, such as this zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) can lighten up a garden bed all summer long. Unlike flowers that require watering, clipping, and fertilizing, ornamental grasses need no pampering.
Architectural appeal. The white-margined blades of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ lend an almost silvery appearance — perfect for highlighting its arching shape. Other grasses have rounded, upright, or umbrella shapes that inject architectural interest into a garden.
Contrasting viewpoint. The dark blades of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) make a perfect foil for the golden yellow blooms of black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.). They also add contrast to the predominantly green foliage of most garden plants for more visual interest.
Dreamy good looks. Although there’s much to be said for their shapely habit and colorful blades, ornamental grasses truly enthrall when in bloom. The billowy clouds on this dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) look positively dreamlike.
Fill a container: Many gardeners don’t immediately think of ornamental grasses when considering container plants. But as this purple fountain grass proves, they’re perfectly capable of being the star attraction. This mix also includes lantana, dusty miller, pansies, bergenia, and sweet potato vine.
Hide a container: Another option is to leave the grasses outside the pot. They’re masters at camouflage, which is useful whether you’re trying to hide a container or simply blend it into the landscape.
Ornamental grasses offer gardeners plenty of options. You’ll have more beauty with less maintenance.