Ornamental grasses are a favorite for modern landscaping, and are especially fitting here in the plains to connect designed landscapes with wild spaces. There’s lots of variation in size, shape, and texture to fit almost any sunny location. Stop in and talk to our greenhouse staff for help selecting the perfect grass for your site.

Dwarf Grasses

These grasses are short, and great for adding texture to landscape beds. Hameln (pictured) and Little Bunny have fox-tail seed heads that form in late summer. The native sideoats gramas have unusual heads, the Blonde Ambition’s hangs sideways off the blade, Trailway’s seed follows orange flowers that dangle off the blade. Prairie Dropseed, another native Nebraskan, has a soft, arching form. Elijah Blue Fescue tops out at just under a foot tall, with powder blue blades.

Feather Reeds

These grasses are popular for their tight columnar shape. Karl Foerster (pictured) is one of our best sellers, with a wheat-like seed head forming above airy blades. Avalanche is similar but with variegated blades. Korean Feather Reed has a fluffier head on it. Indian Steel grass is an excellent upright native alternative to feather reeds, with blue foliage and large copper flowers in the fall.

Switchgrasses & Bluestems

These grasses have some of the best fall color, ranging from Blaze Little Bluestem’s rusty orange to the deep reds of the switchgrasses (Northwind pictured) to purples in Standing Ovation and Blue Heaven Little Bluestem. They generally form a narrow clump, though their sizes vary. Try Cheyenne Sky Switchgrass for spaces that need a shorter (two to three foot) selection.

Maiden Grasses

Maiden grasses are large and dramatic. They’re perfect for screens and as focal points in landscapes. Color and size vary widely among the different varieties. Little Zebra and Porcupine have striking horizontal striping along the blades, while Variegated and Morning light have vertical striping that makes the white coloring stand out. Flame turns bright orange in the fall with silver seed heads, and Oktoberfest turns deep maroon with bronze heads.

Hardy Pampas

This eye-catching grass can reach up to 12 feet tall and six feet wide with huge silver flowers. While it’s not a true southern pampas grass, it’s a good alternative for our hardiness zone.

0 thoughts on “Landscaping 101: Ornamental Grasses

      • What is your definition of some partial shade? Last time I checked feather Reed’s need full sun…if I was to pull out my refractometer what reading would I need to be out?

        • Full sun is about 6 hours of continuous sun, partial shade would be about 3 or 4 hours of continuous sun, or dappled shade from a tree for most of the day. Feather reeds have the best bloom and habit in full sun, but will still perform with less.

  • We cut back our Pampas Grass a few inches from the ground each Spring. This last Spring, part of the grass did not grow back. Should we dig out the dead section out of the ground this Spring?

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