Garden Girl Nicole Hackett

Ornamental grasses bring the bling to any landscape

Ornamental grasses bring the bling to any landscape
Lamondra Breeze

Garden Girl Nicole HackettThis time of year, our landscapes surrender to the swaying plumes of ornamental grasses. We see these grasses throughout the area, providing texture, movement and grace.

Unlike with flowering shrubs, the slightest breeze brings an ornamental grass to life. Installing ornamental grasses to a landscape, hillside or container will add interest to the overall look.

Red fountain grass is probably the most popular ornamental grass for our area. Folks adore the reddish-brown foliage and rose-colored plumes. Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ is the botanical name for this fountain-like grass.

At maturity, expect red fountain to reach 5 feet tall and wide. Red Fountain goes dormant during winter months, with its blades becoming brown and dry. This is part of its cycle, so consider the dormancy when placing within your landscape.

Pennisetum has another family member worth mentioning. Pennisetum hameln is a dwarf fountain grass with green blades and blond plumes. Use it along a border, to accent boulders or as a mass planting.

Lomandra grass

New to the scene, Lomandra grass has been getting lots of attention. This ornamental grass is a lush green and creates a perfectly arched growth habit. Lomandra Lime Tuff grows 30 inches tall and wide. It creates a nice living border along a walkway or surrounding a patio.

Lomandra Platinum Beauty is a cream and green variegated ornamental selection. Use Platinum Beauty to accent a red foliage Japanese maple or a multi-trunk fruitless olive. All of the Lomandra family are evergreens but would look nice pruned down to the ground every other March for a fresh foliage look.

Karl Foerster Calamagrostis is commonly called feather reed grass. This selection makes an awesome hedge or screen, reaching 6 feet tall while in bloom. The purplish plumes of Karl Foerster pair nicely with its deep green foliage. This ornamental grass is both deer- and drought-tolerant.

Karl Foerster Calamagrostis grows from the center out and will need to be divided every few years to prevent the hole-in-the-doughnut effect. It may be extra work, but the results are worth it.

Blue fescue and several selections of Carex grasses have become quite the rage since many people are removing their lawns and opting for water-wise plant material. Blue fescue is a predictable ornamental grass. Depending on the selection, expect growth of 8-16 inches tall and wide.

The color of the foliage is what sells it: The bluer the better. Look for selections such as Beyond Blue, which has a metallic blue color, or Cool as Ice, which is a true blue. Carex creates a waterfall effect in the landscape and is available in green, variegated, bronze and orange.
Ornamental grasses add interest and texture when incorporated into a landscape. They are readily available, drought-tolerant and easy to grow. Read up on the mature sizes of your considerations to ensure you are happy with your installations.

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at