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Ornamental Grasses Provide Garden Color and Textural Interest

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

If you're thinking of xeriscaping, ornamental grasses can provide strong contrast to low growing succulents and groundcovers. Grasses are available in solid and variegated colors from silver-white to deep brown. The seed plumes and small flowers of ornamental grasses add additional texture and may also attract birds to your garden.

Growing Grass in Your Garden

Ornamental grasses offer focal points and textural interest when planted among annual and perennial landscaping. Some types of ornamental grass can grow densely and tall enough to serve as major landscape features. They can also be planted in rows as a windbreak or a natural wall, while others including ornamental blue fescue, grow in compact spiky clumps that offset taller plants. The graceful, fine tendrils of silky thread grass move with the breeze, promoting visual interest in your garden.

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Caring for Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can grow in many climates. It's typically important to select grasses that grow well where you intend to plant them. In general, grasses prefer plenty of sun, but some types can do well with some shade. Irrigation needs vary--some grasses can need a lot of water, while others prefer the hot and dry conditions of the desert. Reading plant care labels and consulting with local landscaping professionals and suppliers specializing in native plants can help you select the right grasses for your landscaping needs.

Most ornamental grasses prefer well drained soil, and benefit from nitrogen rich fertilizer in spring and fall. Topdressing with compost and mulching in the fall can help your grasses survive winter conditions. Depending on type, grasses can be propagated from seed or by dividing established plants every few years. Ornamental grasses can be left standing during the winter, and trimmed by a third in early spring to encourage growth.


Ornamental Grasses

About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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