Ornamental grasses in the garden are incredibly popular. I see them everywhere and for good reason. Grasses add beauty in all parts of the landscape with their interesting foliage, versatility, and ability to showcase and mix well with other flowers and shrubs. When used correctly they add substance and movement to beds and borders creating dramatic accents.
Because grasses come in all shapes and sizes and can adapt to sunny or shady situations it is easy to fine one suitable for any spot. Grasses work well in containers too - so even gardeners with minimal space can enjoy their colours, textures and sounds.
My sister-in-law was here on the weekend wandering around my garden and asking about grasses. Her main concern with using them in her own garden was that she didn't want to add plants that would be weedy or seed spreading.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions of ornamental grasses. Most grasses are not invasive and will not take over the garden. The majority of grasses that are sold for the home market and used for landscape purposes are the well behaved clumping varieties that will not spread like wildfire or take over your yard.
There are some grasses to keep an eye out for. Scouring rushes, foxtail barley, cattails, some bamboo, and a few miscanthus varieties can sometimes present trouble in the garden. Some grasses like pennisetum ,in warmer climates ,can go to seed easily and multiply - but with our winters that generally is not a problem. Check with your local garden centre or online for more information.
Grasses are usually clump forming or creeping. Clump forming grasses grow in distinct tufts that enlarge slowly over the years. Creeping grasses produce active horizontal stems that extend above or below the ground. The runners above ground are called stolons, and those that grow underground are called rhizomes.
Generally most gardeners use the clumping type of ornamental grasses as they don't want other plants crowded out by garden thugs. But the creeping varieties can earn their keep too. They are perfect for holding the soil on a sloping site or can provide easy ground cover for a difficult spot to manage and maintain. If you are a keen gardener - you can use and control creeping grasses by dividing and digging out the plants you don't want.
If you're a flower fan, getting used to ornamental grasses are a bit of a shift. Some grasses do flower in subtle ways, but where they really shine is their versatility, design style, low maintenance, texture, movement and colour.
Grasses are magical in that they are never static. They move with the slightest breeze, emerge green in early spring and can evolve into patches of fall plumes and changing colour. Enjoy.