Ornamental Grasses For Sprucing Up Your Lawn

When it comes to our lawns, we all want the lushest, most attractive plot in town. Whether we’re into decorative greenery, flowering bushes and trees, or potted plants lining the walkway, we know what looks good.

One of the most attractive elements you can add to your lawn to spruce up the looks is an ornamental grass. These species add a variety of benefits to your yard, but only if they’re used properly.

Ornamental grasses require a lot of work, both putting them in and maintaining them, but if you want the nicest yard in town, you’ll want to do invest the time and energy. Besides, the efforts of keeping up your yard will keep you outside working in the sunshine, absorbing that precious Vitamin D.

What Is Ornamental Grass?

Ornamental grass is a variety of grass that is grown as a pleasing decorative foliage. These are not to be confused with your everyday garden variety grasses. Ornamental grass is intended to be grown and not cut down or mowed.

Another thing to remember is that these are rarely used to just cover grounds.

Ornamental grasses have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. People plant these in their gardens and yards to help beautify their property.

One reason ornamental grasses are so popular is that they have strong aesthetic beauty during the season changes when other plants may be less attractive.

What Varieties Of Ornamental Grasses Are Available?

There are a variety of grasses that are marketed and sold as ornamental grass:

  • Cat-tails (Typhaceae)
  • Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)
  • Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
  • True Grasses (Poaceae)
  • Sedges (Cyperaceae)
  • Rushes (Juncaceae)
  • Restios (Restionaceae)
  • Canyon prince wild blue rye (Leymus condensatus)

All of these types of grass are known as monocotyledons.

Another characteristic that ornamental grasses typically have is that they have narrow leaves and parallel veins. Nearly every type of ornamental grass is a perennial, though some are of the evergreen variety.

For the grasses that are perennials, they begin by awakening in the spring by utilizing large amounts of energy that had been stored in their roots.

The annual varieties of ornamental grasses must be replanted every year instead.

Recommended Ornamental Grasses To Plant

There are so many varieties of ornamental grass that it can be hard to decide which one(s) to use. The following is a list of ornamental grasses that come highly recommended by lawn and garden enthusiasts.


1. Blue Fescue And Other Fescue Varieties


The first grass we recommend is called Blue Fescue, or Festuca glauca. This is a grass that is sometimes grown as a lawn. This grass is often used in edgings, ground covers, and borders. Some of the best varieties of Festuca glauca include:


2. Mexican Feather Grass


Mexican Feather Grass

A second popular ornamental grass is called Mexican Feather Grass – also known as Nassella tenuissima or Stipa tenuissima.

This is an ornamental grass which has increased in popularity in recent years. It is being used in things ranging from gardens to green roofs. This is a very easy to spot grass because it has a feather like blade at the end of the stem which is where the seeds rest.

Whenever a strong enough wind blows it will scatter the seeds all over the neighborhood. However, because of how easily this grass spread, some have started to consider it an invasive species, rather than an ornamental grass.


3. Japanese Forest Grass


Japanese Blood Grass

Another favored type of grass is called Japanese Forest Grass – also known as Hakonechloa macra.

This is a grass that originates from around Mt. Hakone in Japan. This grass is renowned for having lime and gold leaves. It’s also celebrated for the exotic looking clumping formations in which they grow.

An easy way to identify this grass is the slender stems which look similar to small shoots of bamboo.

This grass requires weekly watering and in cases of high heat it needs more frequent waterings.


4. Zebra Grass


Zebra Grass

Zebra Grass – Miscanthus sinensis “Zebrinus” – is another highly recommended grass. This is a green and pale yellow grass that dies in the winter but will come back as soon as spring hits.

Zebra Grass needs regular pruning, as this plant will easily grow to five feet long, with a broad width.


5. Bamboo


Bamboo Grass

Bamboo is another grass that is popular. While bamboo may not look like your average grass, it is still a member of the grass family. This plant is originally a native of China and got introduced to the Western world around the middle of the 19th Century.

There are a variety of bamboos which are popular for landscaping. Some of these include:

  • Temple
  • Tortoise Shell
  • Tea Stick
  • Temple
  • Tortoise Shell
  • Yellow Groove
  • Bissett
  • Mexican Weeping
  • Chinese Goddess
  • Black
  • Buddha's Belly
  • Arrow
  • Candy Stripe or Candy Cane
  • Dwarf Fern Leaf
  • Dwarf Whitestripe
  • Fernleaf
  • Yellow Groove

6. Purple Fountain Grass


Purple Fountain Grass

Purple Fountain Grass, also known as Pennisetum setaceum, is a type of grass that has become very popular in various residential and commercial settings. The reason for the popularity of this grass is its very striking form.

Purple fountain grass appears to be like a flowing fountain made from purple and red. Its leaves are feather-like flowers that add to the appealing look of this grass.

It can grow to between two and five feet tall and two and four feet wide.

With the proper maintenance, this grass can grow and thrive year-round.


7. New Zealand Flax


New Zealand Flax – Phormium tenax – is a grass that has become popular for use in both residential and commercial locations. It has a deep red, purplish, and bronze color, and has broader leaves than fountain grass.

New Zealand Flax can reach heights of five feet and become about four feet wide.

This is a plant that requires de-clumping every few years. While that may mean more work than other varieties of ornamental grass, the advantage of having to de-clump this plant is that you will then have more New Zealand Flax to plant elsewhere.

There are a number of varieties of New Zealand Flax that have become popular in recent years, these include:

  • Evening Glow
  • Rainbow Maiden
  • Rainbow Queen
  • Platt's Black
  • Rainbow Chief
  • Sundowner
  • Rainbow Sunrise
  • Cream Delight
  • Dwarf Variegated
  • Apricot Queen
  • Jack Spratt
  • Yellow Wave

8. Japanese Blood Grass


Japanese Blood Grass – or Imperata cylindrica – is a colorful yellow, red, and green grass that is native to quite a few places. Just because it’s called Japanese Blood Grass doesn’t mean it’s located solely in Japan. In fact, this type of grass can be found in Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Micronesia, and Melanesia, as well.

This grass grows by spreading runners underground. To grow properly, it needs to be in rich, damp soil, and receive a proper amount of moisture during the hotter months out of the year.

If the soil becomes too dry it will start to wither and die. Due to how its roots spread, it has become known as an invasive species by some groups.


9. Blue Oat Grass


Blue Oat Grass – Helictotrichon sempervirens – is a grass that’s known for resembling a fountain with its blades being silver-blue. In the summer, the top of the plant takes on a light beige color.

This plant grows anywhere from three to six feet tall and between one and three feet wide.

This is a plant that appreciates full sunlight and getting weekly waterings.

After the plant has had an opportunity to become established, it can resist droughts.

This plant is used for decorating places like rock gardens because it fits in so well with its foliage.



10. Pink Muhly Grass


Pink Muhly Grass – Muhlenbergia capillaris – is known by a few names. These names include gulf muhly grass, mint grass, sweet grass, and hairwan muhly.

This is a very popular plant that’s known for its pink flowers and feather-like plumes. It is named after the botanist Henry Muhlenberg.


11. Egyptian Papyrus


Egyptian Papyrus – Cyperus papyrus – is native to Africa.

These plants can grow up to 72 inches long.

This type of ornamental grass prefers to be in moist soil and will thrive in a water garden setting.

Egyptian Papyrus is a perennial plant in regions that do not have temperatures that reach freezing levels.


12. Black Mono Grass


Black Mono Grass – Ophiopogon planiscapus “Nigrescens” is a short grass that only grows to a height around eight inches tall. It is not actually black in color, but instead is more of a dark green-purple color. It is a plant that likes to be in partial sun and soil that is moist but has been well drained.

Choosing Your Ornamental Grasses

With a list of options like these beautiful, often colorful grasses, you should have more than enough plants to choose from for improving your lawn this year. Take a photographic look through Bing, searching for images of the varieties that sound most appealing, and then look up the specific care instructions for any that intrigue you.

With proper care, your ornamental grasses can turn your yard from “meh” to “wow” in no time at all.

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