Grasses are not limited to low height, ground cover plants that most of us assume them to be. Some ornamental grasses grow to more than 4-5 feet at maturity. After all, they share the taxonomic family (Poaceae) with rice and bamboo.
Besides beautifying the landscape with a soft touch and color, grasses are planted for additional purposes. First of all, ornamental grass care is very easy. They are drought tolerant, resistant to common pests and diseases, stabilize garden slope, serve as ground cover and most importantly, replenish nutrients to poor soil.
Popular Ornamental Grass Types
The varieties of ornamental grasses that you can grow in our landscape are plenty. You just need to have a basic info about the soil and climatic conditions in your area to choose suitable cultivars for your backyard.
While selecting them, you may also like to consider the grass height, size, growth pattern, leaf color, blooming and other factors. Many are perennials and add winter interests to the yard. Here are some commonly preferred ornamental grass types for garden plantation.
However, preparing garden soil followed by sowing of grass seeds is not the end of the story. Obviously, they grow well in a wide range of soil types and require less effort. But, the grass seedlings and the matured ones do need proper maintenance tips. Useful guidelines for ornamental grass care are highlighted further.
Light and Temperature Factors
Take the name of any ornamental grass variety, and it requires direct sunlight and well-drained soil for quick growth. As for giving optimal temperature range, it varies according to grass type. Thus, make a choice between cool season grass that grows in moderate temperature of spring months, and warm season grass that grows during warm summer conditions.
Watering Ornamental Grass
Moisturizing the soil is crucial in the first season after planting ornamental grass, for quick root growth. Following this, the amount of water provided to ornamental grass can be reduced. In short, it can withstand short spells of dry conditions. Watering frequency should be decided based on grass variety, soil type, prevailing climate and growth season.
Fertilizing Ornamental Grass
The specialty of grass is, it grows well even in poor soil not suited for regular garden plants. Similarly, fertilization is not necessary for ornamental grass. For new foliage development, a low dose of all-purpose fertilizer can be applied before the active growth period. Never provide excess nitrogen, or it will negatively affect the growth.
Ornamental Grass Problems
There is nothing much about major problems with planting ornamental grasses. A main concern is growth of weeds, and the best solution is mulching. It conserves moisture and reduces weed growth. For aphids and pest infestations (if any), soapy water can be sprayed to contain them. For root or crown rot, reduce watering and correct drainage problems.
Trimming Ornamental Grass
Caring for ornamental grass includes cutting-back in specific period to ensure new foliage growth in the coming season. The perfect time to trim grass depends upon which cultivar you have chosen for your yard. For example, blue oat or other cool season grasses are cut in mid-summer, Japanese silver or other warm season grasses are trimmed in early spring.
Dividing Ornamental Grass
When ornamental grass grows profusely, it should be removed and divided for propagation. This is of two types based on the growth pattern. The first forms clump and increases in size, but not spread profusely. Second type produces rhizomes and spread easily. Whichever type you select, you need to thin or divide grass, and transplant it for healthy growth.
In spite of providing ornamental grass care, it may happen that the grass appears floppy and weak. Most likely, it is due to inadequate light exposure and excessive fertilization. See to it that there is no large shrub or tree above the grass that blocks light. Also, check the soil nutrients and correct them (if necessary).
Very soon, ornamental grass will restore its normal growth and continue to beautify your yard. An added value of some ornamental grasses is, they possess therapeutic properties and are used in herbal medicine.