Garden tips: Using ornamental grasses in your landscape

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Garden tips: Using ornamental grasses in your landscape

Garden tips: Using ornamental grasses in your landscape

If you have a problem with deer eating your landscape plants, but you still want some color and drama in your garden, consider planting ornamental grasses.

Susan Morrison, a Concord landscape designer, author and Contra Costa Master Gardener, says while there are no guarantees on deer resistant plants, deer generally stay clear of most ornamental grasses. Add to that their low-water needs and beauty, and you have an almost perfect plant.

Most of the grasses need to be cut back severely in the winter, which can make your yard look a bit bare, but most start coming back in March and last through November. There are varieties that have a longer display time, which can keep your garden looking interesting almost year round.

One word of caution, however. Morrison says many of the grasses have lots of pollen and allergens, so if you’re prone to allergies, you might want to start slowly and see how it goes.

For design, grasses provide movement and capture the light like no other ornamental plants. They tend to be particularly spectacular in autumn, she says, when the sun sits lower in the sky.

Morrison says some of the grasses can be somewhat invasive, but as they spread by clumping, they are easily maintained. Too many? Just pull them. Don’t plant grasses that are wind pollinated, however, such as Mexican feather grass. It will soon take over your yard, along with your neighbors’ yards.

Many warm season grasses do well in areas with higher temperatures, but if you live in a cooler climate along the coast, look for cool season grasses that thrive in the winter and spring.

Here are some of Morrison’s favorite grasses and grass-like plants:

  • Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blue grama grass)
  • Calamagrostis foliosa (Mendocino reed grass)
  • Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ and ‘Everillo’
  • Festuca Glauca ‘Beyond Blue’ (Blue fescue)
  • Libertia peregrians (Orange Libertia)
  • Lomandra longifolia ‘Breeze’ and ‘Platinum Beauty’ (Dwarf rush mat)
  • Melinis nerviglumis ‘Pink Crystals’ and ‘Pink Champagne’ (Ruby grass)
  • Miscanthus sinensus ‘Morning Light’ (Maiden grass)
  • Pennisetum orientale (Oriental fountain grass)
  • Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Eaton Canyon’ (Dwarf red fountain grass)

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Published at Thu, 23 Aug 2018 14:00:38 +0000