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Reinvent Your Garden With Ornamental Grasses
Reinvent Your Garden With Ornamental Grasses

If your yard or garden is looking a little bland, an easy and low-maintenance way to add some subtle flair is by planting some ornamental grasses in strategic areas. Unlike the grasses used for lawns, these plants are often tall, colorful, and easy to care for. There are many popular types of ornamental grass, but be sure to pick one that is suitable for your climate before planting.

01

Fountaingrass

Fountain grass EAGiven / Getty Images

Named for its seasonal plumes that seem to spray out from the center, fountaingrass is a great choice for filling an empty corner and adding vertical depth to your landscaping. Some varieties can grow up to eight feet tall, and it comes in several shades ranging from vibrant green to rich purple. It grows best when it gets plenty of sun and is planted in well-drained soil.

02

Maiden grass

Maiden grass ANGHI / Getty Images

Maiden grass, also known as miscanthus, is an excellent choice for urban gardens or ones with lots of hardscaping because its graceful foliage and fuzzy blossoms help soften harsh corners. Full-size varieties can grow up to eight feet tall, but dwarf varieties are available for smaller spaces. This grass does best in consistently moist soil and in full sun. During the fall, its foliage can change from a simple green to a lovely red, purple, or gold hue.

03

Little Bluestem

Little bluestem is native to North America's prairies, making it an excellent choice if you're trying to create a hardy and wildlife-friendly garden. It can be grown in both moist and dry soils, although in moist soil it takes on a more sod-like appearance, while in dry soil it tends to form taller clumps. It gets its name from its blue stems, although the foliage ranges from blue-green to a deep wine color depending on the season.

04

Zebra grass

Zebra grass JeanUrsula / Getty Images

Zebra grass is a versatile, easy-to-maintain perennial that can serve as either a focal point or an accent piece. Its foliage is deep green for most of the year, and during the summer it develops warm beige stripes that give it its name. Fully grown zebra grass is drought-resistant, but it propagates best in very moist soils, so plan on giving it plenty of water at first if you live in a drier climate.

05

Japanese forest grass

Japanese forest grass JohnatAPW / Getty Images

Also known as Hakone grass, this grass originates from the base of Mount Hakone in Japan. It grows in small clumps, which are great for adding texture along walkways or in planter boxes. Several different cultivars are available in colors from vivid green to rich gold. This grass does best when grown in partial shade, and it needs a lot of moisture and rich soil to thrive.

06

Switchgrass

Switchgrass CatLane / Getty Images

If you're looking for a plant that thrives in harsher conditions, switchgrass may be the solution you need. This hardy plant is resistant to drought, and deer and other pesky critters tend to stay away from it. Its native habitat is the North Atenmerican prairies, so it usually does well in both hot and cold conditions. The grass is a lovely green during the summer, and some varieties develop a hint of pink or burgundy when they flower.

07

Blue oat grass

Blue oat grass skymoon13 / Getty Images

Blue oat grass is an excellent choice if you're looking to fill in a smaller gap in your landscaping. This grass grows in clumps that can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The foliage is green with a blue or silvery hue. It does well in average or dry soil, although new plants typically need more water when they're establishing themselves.

08

Fiber optic grass

Fiber optic grass Liudmyla Liudmyla / Getty Images

Although this plant is technically a sedge rather than a grass, it's a great way to add a distinctive touch to your landscaping. It features multiple slender stems that curve gracefully outwards and are topped with small flowers, which creates a cascading look reminiscent of a fiber-optic lamp. This grass needs plenty of sunlight and lots of water to stay green and healthy.

09

Dwarf pampas grass

Dwarf pampas grass Ascent/PKS Media Inc. / Getty Images

You have probably noticed dwarf pampas grass before, even if you didn't know its name. It stands out due to its fluffy white flowers, which develop at the top of the stems in late summer or early fall. This plant is a great choice if you want to add texture to your winter garden, as the flowers stay in place until spring. It can tolerate a wide variety of conditions and can be grown in most climates.

10

Rush

galitskaya / Getty Images

If you're trying to add life to a poorly drained area or give your backyard pond a new look, rush is a fantastic choice. This grass loves moisture and will even grow in shallow water. Numerous varieties are available, ranging from traditional soft grasses to ones with corkscrew-like stems. It also does well in container gardens as long as it gets plenty of sunlight.

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