Choose the Best Ornamental Grass for Your Garden

Lucy Mercer
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Ornamental Grasses at The Home Deot

Ornamental grasses add drama to containers and landscapes, but they can be quiet, too. They are just as valuable in the back of a perennial border as they are boldly displayed in a planter with annuals. All this, and they are among the most drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and easy to establish plants you can grow.

Most ornamental grasses ask for little more than room to grow and average soil. Once they’re settled in, they are low-maintenance and long-lasting. You can show ornamental grasses some love by pruning back in the fall or early spring, and an annual fertilizing is appreciated. More aggressive varieties can be divided every few years.

Choose ornamental grasses with care and know your hardiness zones. Some of the most popular grasses, like purple fountain grass, are not cold-tolerant and unless you’re in frost-free zones, they should be treated like annuals in planters and borders.

Select from perennial grasses for your region for a variety of purposes. Taller grasses like switchgrass can serve as hedges or privacy screens. Plant sun loving Knockout roses in front with perennials like daylilies or seasonal mums, for a colorful display from summer through fall.

Ornamental Grasses | The Home Depot's Garden Club
 
BEFORE CHOOSING ORNAMENTAL GRASSES, CONSIDER:
  • Location. Ornamental grasses like full sun and are tolerant of most soil conditions as long as it’s not too wet. 
  • Solution. Ornamental grasses are landscape problem-solvers. Ask a Garden Center associate or check the Garden Center online to learn more about characteristics like deer resistance, salt-tolerance and drought resistance.
  • Selection. Consider the height of the grass and its impact on the landscape. For example, the towering plumes of pampas grass are magnificent, but the plants are difficult to remove and relocate.
  • Containment. Read plant tags to discover if an ornamental grasses grows in either a clumping or creeping habit. Creepers grow from rhizomes, which shoot out runners, perfect if you have a large area to cover. Clumping perennial grasses will need to be divided every few years. This can be done to propagate or to clean up plants that are dying in the center.

 

Ornamental Grasses at The Home Depot

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES FOR YOUR GARDEN  

Choose from many varieties in the Garden Center, keeping in mind that selection will vary by store, season and region.

  • The rose red flower spikes of purple fountain grass make this a popular choice. In most of the country, it is grown as an annual. In warm climates, the grass will fade to brown in late fall. Cut it back and in spring, and it will sprout and bloom again.
  • Pink Muhly grass, also known as Muhlenberg grass, is drought-tolerant and a great choice for borders. It is hardy in zones 7 to 10.  
  • Pampas grass is known for dramatic plumes that can be more than 10 feel tall. Take precautions when planting and pruning because the blades of grass are sharp enough to cut. Hardy in zones 7 to 11.
  • Hameln dwarf fountain grass produces buff-colored flower heads in late summer, gradually changing to soft pink and light-colored maroon. It can be used as an accent or in mass plantings and pairs nicely with coreopsis, flame grass, sedum and shrub roses.
  • Little Bunny dwarf fountain grass offers up fluffy plumes in late summer. It reaches about 15 inches in height, making it a fine choice for container plantings or as contrast in a perennial border or rock garden.

 

Ornamental Grasses | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Choose the Best Ornamental Grass for Your Region:

Pacific NW

  • Carex (select areas)
  • Purple Fountain Grass (select areas)

N. California/Inland and S. California/Inland

  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Little Bunny Grass
  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Blue Festuca 

Southwestern Deserts

  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Switchgrass
  • Maiden Grass
  • Zebra Grass
  • Pampas Grass
  • Variegatus Grass 

Western Mountains

  • Calamagrostis (Karl Foerster)

Northern Midwest

  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Switchgrass
  • Maiden Grass
  • Zebra Grass
  • Feather Reed Grass

Central Midwest/Middle Atlantic/New England

  • Pink Muhly Grass (except for New England)
  • Little Bunny Grass
  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Switchgrass
  • Maiden Grass
  • Zebra Grass
  • Feather Reed Grass 
  • Variegatus

Coastal & Tropical South

  • Pink Muhly Grass (select areas)
  • Hameln Fountain Grass (select areas)
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Maiden Grass (select areas)
  • Mexican Feather Grass (select areas)

South Florida

  • Purple Fountain Grass

Lower South

  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Little Bunny Grass
  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Maiden Grass

Middle South

  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Little Bunny Grass
  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Miscanthus (Adagio/Morning Light)
  • Maiden Grass

Upper South

  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Little Bunny Grass
  • Hameln Fountain Grass
  • Purple Fountain Grass (select areas)
  • Switchgrass (select areas)
  • Maiden Grass
  • Pampas Grass (select areas)

Ornamental Grasses | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Learn more about ornamental grasses in these Garden Club stories:

 

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