I admit when Ornamental Grass first became popular 20 years or so ago, I was pretty late coming to the party. Why would anyone plant a boring old grass when they could plant a colorful, blooming perennial or flowering shrub? I failed to see the allure of ornamental grass when compared to so many other plant options for the landscape. Admittedly, I was wrong in judging grasses so harshly.
Grass is useful, it’s appealing, and it brings many benefits to the landscape. Much like the versatile “little black dress” or “classic blue blazer”, grass is the go-to plant for many areas of the garden. Ornamental grass is the plant you use in a spot where you unsure of what else to plant. Depending on variety or placement, grass adds a formal or informal look to a garden bed much like that black dress you can dress up or down or that blazer that can be worn with a tie or with an open collared shirt. Everyone should have ornamental grass in their “closet” to pull out and use whenever you need to add color, texture, and movement to your landscape.
Grass adds graceful, fluid movement to our landscapes. With the slightest breeze, grass with long stems, feathery plumes, and delicate seed heads are set in motion. Ornamental grass relaxes us and mesmerizes us as we watch it gently and in unison, sway in the wind.
When height is needed in a landscape, ornamental grass is a wonderful option. It adds a great vertical element and can be used for screening to hide unattractive items such as utility boxes. Grass provides privacy between neighbors and the larger grasses even provide shade. Grass adds interest, color, order, and repetition along an otherwise boring fence line.
There’s no better way to add texture to your garden than with ornamental grass. Different types of grass can add cloud-like, wispy, rigid, and wiry textures to the garden. Grass can add softness to areas with lots of hard surfaces and modern architecture, and add a focal point and order to areas that are otherwise chaotic.
Grass adds beauty and interest as our seasons change. Many grasses change color, starting out green in the spring and turning red, purple, orange, or russet as they bloom and move into fall and winter. Leave your grass standing until spring as they are wonderful additions to the winter landscape adding movement, color, texture and frost-covered sparkle.
Ornamental grass is undemanding and allows you to conserve water in the garden as most are drought tolerant. Grass is typically pest free so doesn’t require added chemicals. Ornamental grass often grows well on slopes, preventing soil erosion. These hardy plants provide a habitat for wildlife and create a natural environment in your yard.
If you’re like me and didn’t initially appreciated the attributes of ornamental grass, it’s not too late. Find that spot in your garden bed where nothing else grows, you need some height or movement, or need a focal point, and give grass a try. Plant the ornamental grass in groups of 3, 5, or 7 to appreciate their uniform appearance and symmetry. Grass adds rhythm, color, and even sound to the landscape as its seed heads rustle together in the breeze. Once you plant one type of grass, you’re likely to want more. Just like that little black dress and classic blue blazer are an essential and irreplaceable part of your wardrobe, you’ll find ornamental grass an essential and irreplaceable part of your landscape. You’ll wonder why you didn’t discover it sooner.