Ornamental grasses bring movement and sound to a garden. The slightest breeze sets the seeds of larger grasses, in particular, a-rustling and dancing in the wind. And the differing textures and colours of grasses add contrast to your garden. Grasses also soften garden paths. Use the smaller varieties, such as the darkgreen Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Kyoto Dwarf’ (dwarf mondo grass), between paving stones or river stones in areas that call for a neat appearance, with looser types, such as Carex ‘Frosted Curls’, where they can sprawl across the pathway. This looks lovely whether that pathway consists of paving stones, sections of logs, or pebbles. Grasses also work well in containers, providing a good show for most of the year; some may die down in the winter, but that’s the ideal time to cut them right back and encourage new growth.
No Fuss Required
Grasses don’t need much maintenance and should only be cut back once they grow out of hand. Some – particularly the smaller varieties – look lovely all year round and those that bear seed heads add a special feeling and height to a garden, even in the heart of winter. You need only cut back seed-bearing grasses after winter unless, of course, you don’t want them to self-seed.
What Are Ornamental Grasses?
Unlike the grasses we’re accustomed to mowing every week, ornamental grasses consist of a large group (including sedges and some indigenous restios) that are grown purely for their appearance. Some grow tall and flaunt seed heads and plumes in late summer and autumn, while other low-growing species add the ideal finishing touch to beds and pathways. You’ll find a wide variety at nurseries and garden centres, so see what appeals to you, paying particular attention to indigenous species.
NOTE Some horticulturists don’t consider restios to be grasses, but reeds – but that doesn’t stop gardeners from successfully using them as ornamental grasses.
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