Ornamental Grass Gardens: Utilizing Grasses for Texture and Movement
Ornamental grass gardens offer homeowners a unique and beautiful way to add texture and movement to their landscapes. While grasses can look plain and be difficult to maintain in other garden settings, ornamental grasses reward gardeners with show-stopping beauty throughout the year.
Ornamental grass gardens provide an artistic connection to the environment by creating a calmer, more relaxing atmosphere. Furthermore, they help to prevent soil erosion and limit water runoff, making them an essential part of any sustainable garden design.
Types of ornamental grasses include tall prairie grasses, fountain grasses, mounds of feather grass, clusters of switch grasses, and many other varieties. They can range in height from just a few inches to more than five feet tall and come in a wide range of colors, textures, and shapes.
Design basics for ornamental grass gardens include selecting plants that are suited to the size of the garden, the sun exposure, and the desired effect. Consider the overall garden design when making plant selections. The size of the garden will determine how many types of grasses can be incorporated. Choose a variety that will provide textural contrast and visual interest throughout the year.
Different Types of Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some popular types of ornamental grasses include tall prairie grasses, fountain grasses, and other less common varieties. Each type of ornamental grass has its own unique characteristics that make it special.
Tall prairie grasses are often used as a backdrop or to line pathways. They typically reach heights between 3 and 4 feet with arching green blades and fuzzy seed heads. These grasses require full sun and can tolerate both drought and wet conditions.
Fountain grasses are known for their multi-colored leaves and large, mounding foliage. They give an airy, whimsical appearance to the garden and reach heights between 1 and 2 feet. Fountain grasses prefer full sun and well-draining soil.
Other less common varieties of ornamental grasses can include tufted hair grass, which has a silver-blue color to its foliage and reaches 1 foot in height, and ribbon grass, which is a low-maintenance grass that forms dense, green mounds up to 2 feet tall.
Creating an ornamental grass garden is a great way to add texture and movement to your landscape. When deciding which type of grass is suitable for your garden, there are a few basics that need to be considered.
Firstly, you will need to determine the size of the area you want to fill with grasses. This is important as it will allow you to choose the right types of grasses that will provide the most impact in the space. The type of grasses you choose should also be appropriate for the climate you live in. Some grasses are hardier than others and will be able to tolerate different temperatures.
Once you have established the size of the grass garden, you can start to choose which types of grasses you think will look and work best. Grasses can be divided into two main categories: tall prairie grasses and fountain grasses. Tall prairie grasses have long upright foliage and work well when planted in larger areas. They create an elegant and graceful aesthetic. Fountain grasses, on the other hand, have cascading foliage which creates a softer, more relaxed feel. These look best in smaller gardens or along the edge of pathways.
Finally, it is important to consider the location of the grass garden in order to ensure it gets the right amount of light and water. A sunny spot with well-drained soil will typically provide the healthiest environment for ornamental grasses to thrive.
Advantages vs Disadvantages of Ornamental Grasses
When considering ornamental grasses for your garden, it’s a good idea to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of incorporating this type of greenery into your garden design.
Advantages of Ornamental Grass:
- Low Maintenance: Ornamental grasses are incredibly low-maintenance plants. They rarely need any pruning or special fertilizer during their lifecycle. This makes them an ideal choice for busy gardeners looking for an attractive yet undemanding plant.
- Drought Tolerance: Ornamental grasses only require light watering even during dry periods, making them an excellent choice for drier climates. They can also survive periods of drought due to their deep root systems that allow them to quickly draw moisture from deep in the soil.
- Versatile Appearance: Ornamental grasses come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors that make them suitable for many landscapes. Their versatile nature allows you to incorporate them into nearly any type of garden style.
- Texture and Movement: Ornamental grasses have been known to create texture and movement in the garden by swaying in the breeze or catching the sunlight as it filters through the greenery. This can be a great way to add visual interest to any landscape.
Disadvantages of Ornamental Grass:
- Invasive Behaviour: Some varieties of ornamental grasses can be quite invasive, with roots that spread quickly. They can also take over an area, outcompeting other plants for resources needed for growth.
- Difficult to Remove: Ornamental grass is difficult to remove once established. While they can be divided or moved by digging up the roots, they can still re-establish themselves in the same spot.
- Unwanted Seedlings: Ornamental grasses can produce lots of unwanted seedlings that will need to be removed periodically to prevent them from taking over the garden. This is especially true of certain varieties like fountain grass.
Planting, Maintenance & Care
When it comes to planting and growing ornamental grasses, you’ll want to consider factors like climate, soil type, location, and water requirements. Find a location that gets sufficient sunlight (at least six hours a day), prepare the soil by loosening and adding organic matter, dig an appropriately sized hole for the root system, place the grass in the hole, lightly tamp down and water generously.
At least once a year, you’ll want to trim the grass back using gardening shears. This will help the plant to stay healthy and looking its best. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on the region and soil type, but most ornamental grasses prefer moist soils and need at least an inch of water every week. Fertilizing is also beneficial, pushing out new growth while keeping the grass lush and healthy. Use a slow release fertilizer at a rate recommended by the manufacturer.
Combining Ornamental Grasses with Other Plants
Ornamental grasses are incredibly versatile and can be used to great effect in any garden. They offer a range of textures and movement that can add year-round interest to any landscape. However, it is important to remember that the impact of ornamental grasses can easily be lost if not combined in the right way with other plants.
When mixing ornamental grasses with other plants, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, consider the size of the garden space and what kind of effect you want to create. Once you have this in mind, select ornamental grasses that will fit the purpose and will suit the available space. It is also important to think about color and texture. Pick plants that will stand out rather than blending in when viewed from a distance.
Additionally, it is essential to recognize the importance of plant placement. Ornamental grasses can be used to draw the eye and bring a sense of movement to the garden. Group them according to their heights, colors and textures to create visual interest and contrast in the landscape. Take the time to observe the relationship between each plant and make sure all elements are properly balanced.
Finally, maintaining the right balance between ornamental grasses and other plants is key for a healthy and thriving garden. All plants need adequate sunlight and water to thrive, so consider these factors when creating your landscape.
Ornamental grass gardens bring a unique dimension to any landscape, with the added benefits of texture and movement. It is possible to select from the vast array of grasses available to suit any climate and environment. By following the tips for planting, maintenance and care, combined with the art of combining other plants, an ornamental grass garden will last for years – a beautiful addition to any outdoor space.