Ways to Use Ornamental Grasses in Your Landscape

Whether you use them as screens, accents, or focal points, let ornamental grasses play a role in your garden or landscape.

Add Privacy

Tall grasses in a large grouping can be a perfect solution for screening an unpleasant view. For best effect, choose tall species.

Create Colorful Containers

With their variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, grasses are perfect for container gardens.

Add Texture to Beds and Borders

Ornamental grasses add unique texture to the landscape. Soft, mounding grasses such as fountaingrass look great with plants that have a bolder texture, for example. More upright grasses, such as switchgrass, make great textural counterparts to more mounded plants.

Soften Hardscaping

Whether it’s walls, paving, or other hardscapes, ornamental grasses can soften their look and keep them from feeling cold and uninviting. Here, for example, a mass of miscanthus softens the concrete edge of a swimming pool.

Dress Up Decks and Patios

Don’t limit ornamental grasses to beds and borders in your landscape. Grow them in containers to add drama to decks and patios. Here, purple fountaingrass adds elegant texture to a rooftop garden.

Plant a Knot Garden

Herbs and tidy hedges such as boxwood are most commonly found in geometric knot gardens. Try adding extra interest with grasses. Here, a golden sedge is a stunning contrast to dark green boxwood.

Add a Garden Accent

Grasses are a great accent plant for beds and borders. Here, a clump of fountaingrass subtly complements bold black-eyed Susans, canna, coleus, and petunia along a deck.

Create Edging

Edge your beds and borders with a tidy line of neat grasses. Small selections, such as the blue fescue shown here, are best for this.

Create End-of-the-Season Interest

Grasses really shine at the end of the season when most annuals and perennials look worn. Many grasses offer twice the interest: They have beautiful seed heads and great fall color.

Enjoy Garden Art

Your favorite ornamental grasses can be the perfect complement to sculpture. Here, feathergrass creates an intriguing foil to broken pottery sculptures and lamb’s ears. The effect is a contemporary design that will look great all year long.

Attract Wildlife

Grasses can be great for attracting wildlife, especially birds. They’ll use the leaf blades for making nests, find shelter in larger grasses, and many species will eat the grass seeds.

Garnish Your Vegetable Garden

Don’t limit ornamental grasses strictly to your landscape. Consider tucking them into your vegetable garden. Here the buff plumes of feather reedgrass contrast wonderfully with the rich purples of a group of eggplants.

Create Formal Flair

Many grasses such as feather reedgrass or the big bluestem shown here have a distinctly upright form that’s perfect for enhancing a formal theme. Plant them in pairs to maximize the effect.

Cover Your Ground

Low-growing or mid-size grasses are top-notch ground covers. They’ll do a great job of smothering weeds while creating an interesting texture for your landscape.

Grow a Pretty Prairie

Create a meadow or prairie effect with grasses. These extra-tough plants provide lots of natural beauty with minimal maintenance. They’re lower care than a lawn — and more environmentally friendly.

Test Garden Tip: For best success with a low-maintenance meadow, select grasses that are native to your region.