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Bluestem Grass

Here's What Landscaping Enthusiasts Should Know About Bluestem Grass

Bluestem grass is mainly used as an ornamental grass for landscaping. This article lists the varieties of this grass and their various uses.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Mar 14, 2018
Bluestem grass is mostly found in the US. It grows in bunches and used for many purposes. This grass is perennial and comes in different varieties. It is great for ornamental purposes in landscaping, and to provide food and shelter to various animals and birds.

This grass is mainly of three varieties:

Little Grass - Schizachyrium Scoparium

Being one of the most popular ornamental grass for shade, the seeds of this variety are widely available in the market. As the name suggests, the length of this grass is shorter when compared to the other varieties. Little grass can grow up to 3-4 feet, and therefore are the shortest of the lot. This grass variety prefers a soil pH level of 7.0. This variety is prevalent in North America and Canada. Depending on the climate, this grass has different shades and colors. Its appearance is truly refreshing and pleasing to the eyes, and this is one of the reasons it is used in landscaping. This grass looks the best in the fall, as it turns bright red with the fluffy, silver-white seed stalks. Although it comes in bunches, it mixes quite well with wild flowers. Another interesting characteristic is that it has a better drought tolerance compared to the bigger variety.

Besides its ornamental use, this grass grows in the wild, is grazed on by animals, and is also used to produce hay. Although it is best grown at a soil pH of 7.0, it is capable of adapting to different soil conditions. Though not quite long, its height is enough to provide cover to small wildlife creatures.

Big Grass - Andropogon Gerardii

Unlike the previous variety, this grass is highly tolerant to all kinds of soil conditions. They may survive in less fertile and sandy soil, but moist and clay-like soil is best for good growth. Big grass can grow up to the height of 10 feet. Little bluestem grass is the preferred choice when it comes to ornamental gardening and landscaping. But as this grass is taller, it is great for forming borders. Adding this to an ordinary flower garden as a border could give a unique look, enhancing the attraction of the existing blooms. This tall grass also helps in stabilizing the soil and provides forage to the livestock, wild animals, and birds. Birds also use this tall grass as shelter for nesting and also get food by way of seeds.

Unlike the other varieties, the big grass tends to grow out of proportion and spreads at a faster pace like weeds. To curb this fast growth, control measures should be taken. One of the easiest ways is using herbicide such as bensulide, glyphosate, trifluralin, etc.

Sand Grass - Andropogon Hallii

Sand grass grows in sandy soil, and therefore is found in places with such soil conditions. It is mostly found in the Great Plains region that consists of grasslands and also in the Midwest. It grows up to a height of 7 feet. This variety helps in stabilizing the sandy soil. Much like the other two species, this grass also provides food and shelter to wild animals. As it is drought resistant, this grass is a great option for xeriscape gardens, where it could be used as a border plant.