Ornamental Grasses are a welcome addition to any garden - in almost any situation. The fact that 'grass' is so commonplace - lawns, weeds, cereal crops, and now even as bio-fuel, sometimes puts gardeners off using this wide range of plants for the ornamental garden.
Rest assured that the ornamental grasses that are mentioned in this section, will be a delight and in no way can they be described as weeds.
There are several plant groups that are similar to grasses, such as Acorus and Cyperus. These are not true grasses (Members of the Gramineae family) but sedges and the like. We will not include those here. Bamboos are members of the grass family, but we will devote a separate section for those also. In this section, we refer to those grasses that are commonly called ornamental grasses.
They can be evergreen or deciduous, hardy or tender, perennial or annual, mound forming or erect, sun loving or shade loving. The one thing that most ornamental grasses have in common, is that they are more or less trouble free from pests and diseases, are easy to grow, and have a long period of interest in the garden.
Grasses are available for any situation in the garden....They don't all grow as big as Pampas Grass!
Some ornamental grasses are evergreen - others are deciduous. Just a few are annuals - having to be sown each year (though they normally do this for themselves once established - but most are perennials, As such the re-grow each year and grace the garden through late spring and summer, and then into their own during the Autumn and Winter.
The latter part of the year is my favourite for the splendour of grasses turning colour, as the Autumn progresses and the flower heads turn to no-less attractive seed heads. The only thing that can beat them for Autumn interest, is the vibrant colours of the Japanese Maples. But wait! The Japanese Maples - and other Autumn foliage plants lose their leaves - and interest in a matter of a few weeks.
The colour and interest of Miscanthus grasses in the Autumn can last for months! The seedheads at this time, also being havens for all manner of wildlife - especially birds in search of a late feed!
Grasses for the garden come in all shapes and sizes. Together with that, there are many types of ornamental grass structural forms to choose from, ranging from the majestic Miscanthus to the mound forming Carex types and the low growing - almost ground hugging - Ophiopogon and Hakonechloa. If it is sheer height that you want, then of course there are the various types of Cortaderia (Pampas), and the lesser known skyscraper grass - Arundo.
The pictures below will give you a starter idea of the types of ornamental grasses that are available for general garden use.
An added incentive for you to plant Ornamental Grasses, is that they need hardly any attention or maintenance at all - and that includes watering! Most of the grasses are happy in the dry garden - and in fact many gardens set aside a specific area of dry ground as a dry garden or border specifically for Grasses.