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How to Landscape With Ornamental Grasses

Decorate your lawn or garden with ornamental grasses to achieve a free-flowing, modern feel in your outdoor spaces.

This design uses ornamental grasses to form a stunning composition of colorful, fluffy seedheads and architectural foliage and is easily achieved in the smallest of sunny borders. The tall Stipa and Miscanthus grasses add upright structure at the back of the plan while the beautiful pinkish seedheads of Pennisetum alopecuroides provide the eye-catching focus in the center. The contrasting colors of the blue Elymus and the golden Hakonechloa bring a range of color to the design. You will need approximately 10x15 feet (3x1.5 m) of space to grow these plants. These grasses, which are best-suited for a contemporary garden, prefer free-draining soil and full sun to partial shade.

Materials Needed:

  • 2 Stipa calamagrostis plants
  • 1 Miscanthus sinensis plants
  • 1 Miscanthus sinensis plants
  • 2 Pennisetum alopecuroides plants
  • 3 Hakonechloa macra plants
  • 1 Elymus magellanicus plants
  • planting soil
  • gardening rake
  • gravel
  • gardening hose
  • pruning shears

Planting and Aftercare

Turn over the soil, and rake it level. Lay down landscape fabric to prevent weeds from germinating, and cut slits where the plants are to be slotted. The Stipa calamagrostis and the Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' are the tallest plants, so position these toward the back, 20 inches (50 cm) apart. Place the others in the foreground, about 8 inches (2 0cm) apart. Cover any visible landscape fabric with gravel. Water regularly in the first year until the grasses are established. They are deciduous, but can be left over winter to provide structure and wildlife interest and should then be cut back in February. This design is relatively low maintenance since grasses require no deadheading, pruning, or staking, while the landscape fabric will help to smother weeds.

Stipa (Stipa calamagrostis)

Stately StipaDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Spotted Grass (Miscanthus sinensis

Stunning Ornamental GrassesDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Morning Light (Miscanthus sinensis)

Morning Light Ornamental Grass with Feathery FoliageDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

Ornamental Grass Fox Tail BloomsDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aureola (Hakonechloa macra)

Ornamental Aureola GrassDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Blue Grass (Elymus magellanicus)

Securing Grass TurfDK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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