Ornamental Grasses

Close Up of Ornamental Grass - Brady Nursery - Wichita, KS

Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses and grass-like plants are known for their hardiness, low maintenance and dramatic appearance. Once they reach maturity, many grasses are drought tolerant. Most ornamental grasses are perennials and live for two or more years. There are also annual grasses that live for only one growing season. Grasses will either grow by clumping or spreading. Spreading grasses expand rapidly by either above ground or underground stems and they may overtake desirable plantings. Clumping or bunch grasses grow in a clump that gradually increases in diameter.

Incorporating Grasses into the Landscape

Grasses can be used as accent plants, substituted in place of smaller shrubs, and used in perennial borders or container plantings. Using multiples, grasses can stabilize hillside soils for erosion control. Ornamental grasses and their plumes come in a wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes. Foliage can be in the form of fine or coarse textured leaf blades that either arch or stand upright. The flower heads of many grasses can be very showy. Flowers and seed heads can last for weeks or months, and many varieties provide interest throughout the winter. Many grasses are golden to red in the fall and can fade to tan or straw hues in the winter. Showy plumes/seed heads lend to winter interest and protection for wintering song birds. Grasses also provide unique interest to the garden by adding the appeal of movements and rustling sounds to the landscape.

Decorative Grass - Brady Nursery - Wichita, KS

Planting & Maintenance

Planting: Before adding ornamental grasses into the garden, it’s important to know what soil type is required. When planting, first loosen the roots around the bottom and sides of the root ball.

Watering: Once established, most ornamental grasses grow best with at least 1 inch of water per week. Drip irrigation saves water by applying it directly to the roots and reduces the chance of foliar diseases. Through the months of November and February, grasses that are less than 5 years old should still be watered monthly.

Fertilizer: In terms of fertilizer, most ornamental grasses need very little.

Pruning: In late winter or early spring, grasses should be cut back before the new season’s growth starts. Cut stems to a few inches above ground level for best appearance, using a bungee cord to pull up tight. They can be cut back with pruners, hedge shears, electric hedge shears, or a weed eater.

Dividing: Lastly, it’s very important to divide ornamental grasses every 3 to 4 years. If they’re not divided, they will eventually become thin or die out in the center. It’s best to divide grasses while they are a manageable size as overgrown grasses are difficult to dig and divide.