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Gorgeous Ornamental Grasses Your Landscape Will Love

Ornamental grasses usually aren’t the centerpiece of landscaping plans, but their amazing textures and expressive personalities are big contributors to curb appeal. Ornamental grasses are easy to care for, drought-tolerant, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes — from fluffy border edgings to towering privacy screens. Here are some of our favorites.

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Backyard Meadow

Why mow the lawn when you can let it grow into a backyard meadow? A spiky sotol (Dasylirion) and billowy Mexican feather grasses (Nassella tenuissima) line gravel paths and create an easy-care yard you won’t have to cut. But check with your local municipality and HOA before you plant — there may be ordinances that restrict grass height to reduce the risk of fire during dry seasons.

 

Credit: Philip Leveridge

Image: Philip Leveridge
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  • Fast-growing Sudan grass — a hybrid of sorghum — reaches up to 8 feet tall in a single season. It’s an annual, meaning it needs to be replanted every year, but that’ll give you the chance to experiment with it in different locations. Use it as a garden centerpiece, a living privacy screen, or a jungle hideaway for your kids.

     

    Credit: Sudan grass available at William Moore Farms

  • Ornamental grasses in containers are a good way to add pizzaz to a deck or patio. A dramatic, showy ornamental, such as this festival grass (Cordyline), makes a strong architectural statement. Container plants need extra watering or they’ll dry out in hot weather.

     

    Credit: Revive Landscape DesignLori Brookes Photography

  • Why mow the lawn when you can let it grow into a backyard meadow? A spiky sotol (Dasylirion) and billowy Mexican feather grasses (Nassella tenuissima) line gravel paths and create an easy-care yard you won’t have to cut. But check with your local municipality and HOA before you plant — there may be ordinances that restrict grass height to reduce the risk of fire during dry seasons.

     

    Credit: Philip Leveridge

  • A good mixer for perennial flower beds, pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) forms feathery reddish plumes that add a splash of color to your landscaping. Keep tall grasses in place over winter so they’ll provide texture and shape even when they’re dormant. Cut down to about 3-4 inches in spring to jump-start new growth.

     

    Credit: Andrew Keys / Garden Smackdown

  • Dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) grows only 6 inches high, making it ideal for defining the edges of walkways and driveways. Mondo grass spreads slowly, but you can speed the process by dividing clumps with a spade in early spring. Be forewarned: Creating a lush checkerboard pattern like this takes time and dedication.

     

    Credit: Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance

  • If you could only choose one ornamental grass, fountain grass (Pennisetum) should be at the top of your list. With its graceful, arching stems and long, flowing plumes, fountain grasses are 4-foot-tall mounds of pure curb appeal. There are many varieties; check your local nursery for what’s best in your area.

     

    Credit: Robert J Kleinberg Landscape Design & Construction

  • Artistically bent? Got a green thumb? Combine your talents with a sedge design — a free-form creation that’ll turn your back yard into a living sculpture. Sedges (Carex) are hearty, finely textured grasses that you can use as borders, in rock gardens, in containers, and as a lawn replacement. Many are native to Western states, and grow there with little care or watering.

     

    Credit: Growsgreen: San Francisco Landscape Design

  • Fences and other privacy structures work just fine, but nothing beats a wall of friendly greenery for screening views from nearby neighbors. Fast-growing grasses, such as silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis), form dense clumps and grow more than 7 feet tall. Its tropical appearance is great near swimming pools

     

    Credit: Staten Island Advance

  • If you like these, you may want to take a spin through HouseLogic’s library of slideshows.

     

  • Growth Spurt
  • Exclamation Point
  • Backyard Meadow
  • Showing Off
  • Tread on Me
  • All-Time Favorite
  • Planting Like Pollock
  • Living Privacy Wall
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  • Image: Sudan grass available at William Moore Farms
  • Image: Revive Landscape Design | photo: Lori Brookes Photography
  • Image: Philip Leveridge
  • Image: Andrew Keys/Garden Smackdown
  • Image: Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance
  • Image: Robert J Kleinberg Landscape Design & Construction
  • Image: Growsgreen: San Francisco Landscape Design
  • Image: Staten Island Advance