Roger's Backyard Nursery
Ornamental grasses come in different sizes, shapes, colors and styles. They can be used as specimen plantings, edging, backdrops or group plantings. Most are a shade of green while growing, usually changing to a shade of brown late in the year. During the summer months, the taller varieties especially, breezes can make them dance. They can be left standing through the winter, giving some winter design interest. Some can withstand heavy snowfall even. Cutting them down to a few inches in late winter or early spring gives the new growth a better start. They can be cut off earlier if they get damaged by snowfall. Basically there are two groups of grasses, based on when they start their growing cycle. There are cool season grasses and warm season grasses.
Cool season grasses, as their name suggests, start growing early in the year. New growth starts to appear sometimes right after last frost in the spring. Once it gets warm enough in the spring, these grasses grow rapidly. They are usually done growing by late spring and start to grow their seedheads or flower heads. Once the summer temperatures arrive, they take a rest and won't add any growth until it cools down in the fall.
Warm season grasses, on the other hand, start growing later in the spring when the temperatures are warm and flowers are blooming. They are slower growing and usually take most of the summer to grow to full size. Seedheads usually appear late summer or early in the fall. Most of these grasses are the taller varieties with the tall seedheads.
We currently have about 20 varieties of ornamental grass growing throughout our yard. Some are still maturing but still show their features. Most grasses add to their size by enlarging their clump size gradually. There are a few that spread out by underground rooting rhizomes and they can be intrusive if planted in an undesired location. Most seedheads are sterile, but a couple can produce viable seeds and should be removed before fully ripening and scattering. If you don't get them removed, you may wind up with extra weeding to do in your beds or some tougher textured grass to mow. They are grass seeds after all.
Japanese Silver Grass, Variegated Ribbon Grass, Autumn Flame, Porcupine Grass, Sweet Flag, Cabaret, and a few others.