Landscaping with ornamental grasses – particularly native American grasses – can lend a host of favorable attributes to your yard. In addition to adding color, texture, and contrast, ornamental grasses also provide shelter for wildlife and, if the right varieties are used, can offer a beautiful way to screen for privacy between your property and the next.
Not to be confused with sedges (sedges have three-sided blades while grass blades are rounded), ornamental grass is quickly becoming one of the most favored landscape accents on the market. Grasses are grown around the world, the largest of which is bamboo.
Each area of the globe has its own native grasses, but not until recently have ornamental varieties been cultivated for use in the landscape. Traditionally, as a provider of all the cereals consumed by both animals and humans, grasses have been grown for food only.
Native American grasses include:
- big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
- little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
- Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
- switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
- Western wheat grass (Agropyron smithii)
- June grass (Koeleria macrantha syn. K. cristata)
- needle grass (Stipa spartea)
- buffalo grass(Buchloe dactyloides)
- blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)
As a rule of thumb, native American grasses require much less water for optimum growth than many ornamental grasses that hail originally from European countries.
Ornamental sedges, unlike native American grasses, require lots of water to properly thrive. Native to bogs and moors, these plants require a wet to moist growing medium to do well. With more than a thousand species, some ornamental sedges include variegate Japanese (carex Morrowii “gilt”), New Zealand hair (carex “Frosted Curls”), leather leaf (carex buchananii), and Bowles golden (carex elata “Bowles Golden”).
Both ornamental sedges and grasses can make a big, beautiful difference in your landscape. Because of the incredible variety, it pays to do some online research and plan your yard accordingly.
Visit local nurseries and find out more about the amazing versatility and beauty of ornamental grasses and sedges, including which are available locally. Everyone, including your neighbors, will be glad you took the time to make these wonderful and easy-to-grow plants a vital part of your landscaping plans.