Ornamental Grasses: The Basics

Ornamental grasses are perfect for homeowners looking to replace their lawn with something that closely resembles grass. Not only do ornamental grasses eliminate the need for mowing, but they also help you conserve water. Like turfgrasses, ornamental grasses are classified as either cool-season or warm-season grasses. While these plants are drought tolerant, they may enter dormancy during periods of drought. When it comes to selecting an ornamental grass, there are a lot of options, making it ideal for any homeowner wanting more plant variety.

Things to Consider When Planting Ornamental Grasses

While most ornamental grasses are clump forming, others spread by rhizomes. Since clump forming plants don't spread as easily, you'll have to purchase a fair amount of plants to cover your entire lawn. Keep in mind that the initial investment will be high, but planting ornamental grasses may save you money in the long run. It's also important to note that homeowners should avoid walking on ornamental grasses.

Ornamental grasses should be planted in the spring because this allows ample time for the roots to establish themselves. In addition to needing less water, ornamental grasses require less fertilizer. At least once a year, ornamental grasses will turn brown and you'll need to cut them back. Although ornamental grasses are used to replace lawns, many homeowners may choose to use these plants in their landscape bed.

Cool-Season Ornamental Grasses

  • Blue Lyme Grass
  • Feather Grass
  • Northern Sea Oats

Warm-Season Ornamental Grasses

  • Indian Grass
  • Fountain Grass
  • Ribbob Grass

Shorter Grasses (less than 12 inches)

  • Fescue Grass Elijah Blue
  • Japanese Forest Grass Aureola
  • Monkey Grass Silvery Sunproof

Medium-sized Grasses (18 inches)

  • Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster
  • Eulalia Grass
  • Northwind Switchgrass

Tall, Meadow-like Grasses

  • Karley Rose Fountain Grass
  • Little Bluestem Grass Prairie Blues
  • Fountain Grass Hameln

If you're looking to replace your turfgrass lawn, ornamental grasses provide an excellent option because their growth and climate characteristics are similar to turfgrass, but they require less maintenance than regular grass. Talk with a local lawn care company to determine if ornamental grasses are a viable option for your lawn.

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