purple ornamental grass in close up

13 Tips for Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses

If you are looking to awe and impress everyone with your garden design, one of the surest ways to do so is to opt for landscaping with ornamental grasses. These plants will immediately guarantee you an aesthetically pleasing effect, as they can be found in hundreds of varieties of color, size, and shape.

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses How To’s

There are plenty of already famous arrangements you can choose from,  for example, either one of the popular Asian strains like bamboo or Japanese forest grass, or something more traditional, such as feathergrass.

Before planting the ornamental grasses, you should be aware of the fact that they’re not like regular grasses. Their purpose is purely decorative, so you don’t need to cut them.

Also, unlike traditional grass, they are not meant to cover a big surface of land, so choose small patches for planting. Here are some easy but effective tips and tricks on how you could arrange ornamental grasses and give an exquisite look to your garden.

pink ornamental grasses blown by the wind to the left

1.      Hide unpleasant areas in your garden

Most probably, there are some places in your garden which don’t look as good as you’d want them to. One option is to redesign them, but that can be costly and might take a lot of time. However, you can still use a trick and opt for landscaping with ornamental grasses.

Tall grass species are the best to hide these unpleasant places and offer your garden a fresh new look. Anything from Ravenna grass, moor grass, or big bluestem should do the trick. However, this solution is not permanent. As spring starts, you’ll have to cut these grasses, and they take about one or two months to grow back.

2.        Plant them in containers

If you have some old containers abandoned in your garage or somewhere at the back of your garden, it’s time to take them out. Any kind of ornamental grasses can easily be planted in buckets, urns, or even oversized barrels.

Then, you can arrange them either in the center of your alley or at the corners, looking like an indoor plant placed outside. For a double effect, you can decorate the containers as well by using stones or paint.

3.       Blend them into the landscape

In case you don’t want something that stands out, you can easily incorporate ornamental grasses in the garden and suit them with the rest of your plants. The secret is to create harmony and use decorative plants to give texture to the rest of the landscape.

For a dramatic yet peaceful effect, you can mix different types of ornamental grasses. Take fountaingrass, for instance, which is a soft type of plant, and place it next to switchgrass, which is taller and more prominent.

4.       Decorate your pool or pond

If you have a big garden surrounding a pool or a water source, then landscaping with ornamental grasses can be the secret to creating a dreamland. Planting them around your pond could turn your garden into an enchanted meadow, and make you feel like you’re out in the wilderness.

Before starting the task, opt for perennials which can grow over the edge of the pool. However, choose something that doesn’t produce much litter, to avoid having to constantly clean the water.

5.       Decorate your house or your balcony

If you don’t have a garden, you can still play with ornamental grasses and make your front deck beautiful. Many species can grow in containers and have to be constantly replaced, just like a houseplant.

Purple fountain grass is one such easy-to-tame species, which doesn’t get restrained if planted in a pot. You can use the trick for an apartment as well, and utilize them to adorn your balcony.

6.       Create a knot garden

You can put your artistic side to use in designing such a small but pretty arrangement. Knot gardens are usually created by combining two contrastive species of ornamental grasses, which are then planted in a geometrical formation. Boxwood is probably the perfect plant for such arrangements, as it’s mounding and disciplined.

Make sure you combine with something of the same type. The appearance must be distinct so that you can obtain the contrast, but the plant should also be mounding. This is necessary to make the knot garden look harmonious. If you choose plants which take more space to grow, the arrangement can look unorderly and chaotic.

ornamental grasses in orange and green hues

7.       Consider season changes when planting the grasses

As the weather turns colder, plants turn golden, creating idyllic landscapes and covering gardens and forests in rusty shades. If you want to paint your backyard in autumn colors, you only have to choose the right ornamental grasses.

By opting for tall grasses which change their leaves as autumn comes, you can easily get a dramatic effect. Many of these plants turn golden or even acquire faint shades of purple as the sun gets colder and other leaves start fading.

To make sure everything looks beautiful, you can plant them on larger surfaces. This way, your garden will become a true autumn wonderland.

8.       Use the same motif across your entire yard

Landscaping with ornamental grasses can make your garden look different by letting you play with plants. However, you should make sure and follow a few rules while decorating, to avoid making it look chaotic.

Instead of spreading plants of all kinds, you can choose one species as representative for your garden. Then, by planting it in various spots, you can turn it into a motif. This way, it will all look more sophisticated, and keep your garden together in terms of look and harmony.

9.       Create ornamental borders

If your garden is full of alleys and stairs, ornamental grasses are the secret to making them look less plain. To make sure you achieve that fairytale look, edge the alleys and stairs with a row of such plants. Apart from looking pretty, they will guarantee a more orderly aspect for your yard.

One of the best choices of grasses is blue fescue, which grows in small and compact grassy bushes. You can choose almost any type of grass that doesn’t grow too tall. If you want to create a compact border, make sure you plant the grasses close to each other. This way, when they reach maturity, the edge will appear uninterrupted.

10.   Ornamental grasses look good in the background, too

You might find that too many grasses make your garden look crowded, and maybe you are a bigger fan of a simpler look. Even so, you can still achieve a chic look for the backyard by inserting some ornamental grasses, but not as the main star of the show.

These plants look great in the background, too, by creating natural hedges and barriers. You can plant them right next to the real fence, and watch them create a green background for your other plants.

11.   Grasses are the perfect ingredient for garden art

If you enjoy a more mythologically-evoking look, ornamental grasses shouldn’t miss from the picture. Choose anything you want to decorate your yard with, such as sculptures, old pottery, garden statues, or stones.

Arrange them however you like, according to what look you want to obtain. Then, complete the picture with some ornamental grasses spread here and there between the other pieces of decoration.

Feathergrass, for instance, is a great choice for garden art. With its tall and pointy look, it can easily get inserted between sculptures and rocks to make everything seem luxurious.

If you choose such a decorating idea, don’t be afraid to be as creative as you want. Any wacky idea is welcome, as long as you combine everything in a harmonious manner.

white ornamental grass plume pampas

12.   Use the plants for a watery appearance

Let’s say you’ve always wanted a water source in your garden, but the land is too dry for something natural. Also, creating an artificial one might be too costly. There’s always a solution for that, and ornamental grasses are perfect for creating a watery appearance.

To achieve the trick, choose tall grasses with a wavy constitution. This way, whenever the wind blows, the plants will look like moving water. If your land is indeed dry, be extremely careful with the plants you choose. There has to be something that can survive in this type of soil so that you can avoid their dying.

13.   Make shelters for birds

Certain grasses can become the perfect setting for birds, as tall leaves and bushy branches can turn into nests. This way, you can also offer them a place to hide from predators or hunters, and help with their conservation.

However, if you want to attract birds, you have to do some research first and find what plants are best for them. Most probably, you will have to pick only or mostly native species.

Conclusion

Landscaping with ornamental grasses is a quick way to embellish your garden and give it a fresh new look. These plants are simple to obtain, relatively easy to breed and have a guaranteed visual impact. The benefits are mainly aesthetic, as they can turn any dull garden into a resplendent wonderland.

Nonetheless, by tending to these grasses, you can learn how to be a better gardener and how to take better care of the different needs of various plants.

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Bonnie Enos

I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!

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