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Ornamental Grass Garden

Posted by cahnrs.webteam | December 20, 2013

Garden Highlights

  • 25 specimans of grasses
  • Typically drought tolerant grasses
  • Virtually disease-free plants
  • Good example of a low maintenance garden

The Ornamental Grass Garden displays a variety of ornamental grasses that can be used as an effective and attractive partner to flowers and woody shrubs in landscape design. Ornamental grasses may be cool or warm season specific. They are usually very drought tolerant and virtually disease free and are a natural choice for a low maintenance garden. Size varies from very small to 15 feet high, with versatility in appearance.

Tall, showy grasses such as pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana and silver grass, Miscanthus sinensis, are two almost full-proof grasses, each growing to 10 – 12 feet. They provide great structure in the garden background, or as specimen plants. Both have large silver, pink or bronze tassels that appear atop tall stalks.

Short grasses include blue fescues such as E. oviana glauca ‘Blue Silver’ or ‘Elijah Blue’. Their striking blue colored blades form neat clumps about 8 inches tall and are good for edging or ground cover. Grass selections for this garden will include Mexican feather grass – with its graceful, light tan stems and leaves that wave gracefully in the wind, and Indian rice grass Stipa hymenoides, an excellent drought resistant, ornamental bunch grass. Its 1-2 foot stems support airy seed panicles that sparkle in the sun.

Most grasses prefer full sun and can benefit from well-prepared soil. It’s generally best to plant them in the early spring to allow them to establish prior to the heat of summer or the cold of winter. Keep the new plantings moist. Grasses are not heavy feeders and too much nitrogen in the soil can cause weak growth and floppy plants. A drip irrigation system is used in this garden, however an impact or spray – type of irrigation works equally as well.

This garden is planted in a raised area contained by a low wall that’s surrounded by a sidewalk. Boulders are used to contain a low lying part of the garden, which provides a more moist environment required by some of the grasses and sedges.

Local nurseries provide a wide variety of grass selections for purchase. Others can be found on the internet or in garden catalogs. The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses by John Greenlee is a great resource for those who would like to learn more about ornamental grasses. It’s also available at local libraries.


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1620 S. Union
Kennewick, Washington

(In Kennewick’s Grange Park behind the Mid-Columbia Library)

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Donations are tax deductible and are made to the Master Gardener Foundation of Benton Franklin County, a 501(c)3 organization.  Donations of any size are appreciated.

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