Your lawn is lovely, with tall trees and beautiful hardscaping. The wind is whispering, and your aspens are singing. However, you may feel like there’s something missing.
But what? A garden gnome? No, you already have 6. Some wildlife? Probably not – you’ll end up with less foliage than a new sapling. What is it then? Consider something simple and affordable – ornamental grasses! They are easy to maintain and can add a pop of color and texture.
Ornamental (meaning decorative) grasses are meant to give your eyes something beautiful to fix on. Different ornamental grasses boast a variety of eye-catching features, from vibrant purples and reds to other aesthetic properties like interesting shapes and sizes. Some ornamental grasses are annuals, others are perennials.
They can grow taller than the height of a human easily (some over 12 feet!), so they’re also a good option for privacy. You can grow them from seed inside and transplant them outside, or purchase bundles from your local nursery. If taking care of all plants were a video game, ornamental grasses would be on level 1 because they’re hardy and require minimal work.
You can mix and match different styles and colors to create a stunning landscape full of personality. In this article, we’ll explore the various types of ornamental grasses, provide tips for maintaining them, and suggest ideal locations for planting.
Our Favorite Colorado Ornamental Grasses
Big Bluestem grass
Full sun, will tolerate partial sun
Feather Reed Grass
Morning sun, shade in the afternoon
Blue Grama Grass
Full sun, no shade
Full sun, will tolerate partial shade
Full sun, will tolerate partial shade
Maintaining Your Ornamental Grasses
If you’re looking for an easy maintenance plant- you’ve hit the jackpot here. Don’t worry about ornamental grasses spreading and invading other areas of your or your neighbor’s yard. They are fairly drought tolerant as well, which bodes well for our varied Colorado climate.
Since they’re drought-resistant, it’s okay if you miss a watering here and there. These guys don’t even need fertilizer! Now it seems crazy not to have some blue grama grass or bunches of feather reed grass dotted throughout your landscape.
Other than regular watering, you’ll want to cut back your ornamental grasses every year. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your easy bundles of love as they will look great basically the entire year.
Pruning Every Year
To keep things looking nice and tidy, we recommend pruning in the springtime. You can do this in the fall as well, but doing so in the springtime can carry through better winter texture and help your fall colors pop for a longer period. We call this “winter interest-” and ornamental grasses are totally interesting!
Cut the leaves back at least 6 inches every year and watch them rejuvenate themselves stronger than before. Our experts say to not be afraid to cut them down even shorter- they will grow back, and quickly! It can be easier to trim down your ornamental grasses with this life hack:
Get several feet of string, wrap it around all the blades, and pull the string until snug. You may want to have two people involved – one pulling and looping the string, and the other holding up all the grass. Once all the grass is held together with string, it’s much easier to take your shears in for a nice chop-chop!
Cutting back, or pruning your ornamental grass is essential to prevent the grass from dying in the middle. If that happens, you’ll be left with a sad-looking grass doughnut (ew). We’re assuming that’s not what you’re going for!
This doughnut can also appear when the plant is ready to be divided. This happens every 3-5 years. When you’re ready to divide the plant, moisten everything thoroughly, dig up the plant, separate the grasses at the root ball, and, presto! You now have more ornamental grass babies! They grow up so quickly… (but really).
Where Do Ornamental Grasses Belong?
Ornamental grasses can bring your yard that extra “zing” just about anywhere. Different types of grass prefer different environments, so be sure to place them accordingly. Although they can tolerate a wide variety of conditions, most prefer plenty of open sun with at least 8 hours per day. That means a southern exposure would be best for most ornamental grasses.
Other grasses do better in the shade, and almost all ornamental grasses need to be well-drained. You can plant them in pots with other flowers such as petunias for a dazzling display. Just be sure to use an unglazed, or lighter-colored pot with drainage holes. That keeps the plant from burning from the reflections of the sun. Ouch!
Ornamental Grass - Big Growth, Little Effort
Now you’re ready to plant a plethora of ornamental grasses! By strategically placing bundles of ornamental grasses throughout your landscape, your yard will gain that extra “something-something” that you didn’t know you were missing.
Maintaining ornamental grass is easy and if you follow our recommendations above, you should see growth from about 6 to 12 feet annually (depending on the type of ornamental grass you choose.)
Add them in pots to spruce up your entryway, or line them up along the edge of your property to give your landscape the extra pop it deserves. Work in some petunias for the ultimate “wow-factor!” You and your neighbors will be glad you did.
Liked This Blog?
Share with a friend!
Your lawn is lovely, with tall trees and beautiful hardscaping. The wind is whispering, and your aspens are singing. However, you may feel like there’s
If you’ve been on a drive through the Rocky Mountains, you have certainly seen patches of aspen trees here and there. Their leaves change color
Everyone needs a haircut at some point, and so do our plants! Deadheading is when you prune (or cut) seed heads and dying parts off
How do you know when it’s time to repot your plants? Are your seedlings ready to grow outside? We’ll answer those questions, plus many more
Let’s look at choosing native grasses for your landscape – they will help reduce maintenance, irrigation needs and mowing which can save you some green