phone 770-954-9862 
Wilson Bros Nursery is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 7 DAYS A WEEK!
All About Ornamental Grasses  

Ornamental grasses are a great way to add visual interest and fill space without a lot of fuss.


Every garden needs the essentials, plants that are a great investment because they survive and thrive in their climate. Ornamental grasses certainly fill the bill. You’d have to try your hardest to kill these fighters.

The practicality of ornamental grasses is what makes them so popular. Use them to fill in empty areas of the garden and provide interest in the yard all year round.

There are many varieties of ornamental grasses, big ones such as pampas grass with their gigantic feathery buff plumes and smaller ones like Muhly grass with its wispy, cloud-like pink plumes - all of them putting on a fabulous show at one time of the year or another.

Pampas Grass
Muhly Grass

Most ornamental grasses put on a show in the fall and winter when the garden is in need of a little extra boost. They’re such adaptable plants that most of them will prosper in any soil condition, and neither drought nor floods will deter them from acclimatizing and thriving.

Aside from providing year-round interest in gardens ornamental grasses are virtually impossible to kill. Most of them can survive the most severe drought with no watering at all.

The seed heads, plumes and foliage of ornamental grasses are appealing for most gardeners because of the vertical interest they provide. The texture of ornamental grasses are eye-catching and serve as an excellent contrast for surrounding shrubs. Maiden grass, with its frilly plumes are one of our favorites.

We use Maiden grass more tha any other in landscape design. This ia a tough ornamental grass with stately appearance. The thin upright foliage provides vertical interest and a soft textured look in the landscape. Its very drought tolerant so we combine it with other drought tolerant shrubs and perennials.

In fact, we've never drawn a full-lot design that didn't include ornamental grasses. We use them all over the place: the mid-size to larger ones around pools and ponds, on either side of entryways, as accents in shrub plantings or as screens to hide an air conditioning unit or utility box, or borders to define property lines. We use mid-size and smaller species as accents in flowerbeds, perennial gardens, and centerpieces in containers. Some very low growing grasses such as Liriope (Monkey grass) are very useful as a grouncover and others like Dwarf Mondo grass are excellent for use between stepping stones and pavers.

If we find an area in a landscape where there is moisture retentive soil we almost always design in some Horsetail grass (left). Horsetail grass is one that actually prefers life on the wet side. We usually combine it with Iris pseudacorus and other moisture-loving plants.
There are several annual grasses such as Purple (red) Fountain grass and Purple Millet grass, though not hardy, are worth mentioning for their use in the garden. These grasses are great to use as center pieces for container gardening or as accents in annual flower beds.


Though most go dormant, almost all ornamental grasses add a significant vertical presence to the winter landscape and are commonly left standing until spring.

In the spring, grasses should be cut back to make room for new growth. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt with some of the larger growing varieties such as Pampas grass because the blades can cause 'paper cuts'. A general rule of thumb is to cut them back to about 6" or so above the ground before, or just when you notice new growth begin to emerge. Once this task is accomplished, you should have a great arrangement of dried grass plumes to bring indoors and display in a large urn or vase!

In Summary

  • Grasses are adaptable and can grow in poorer soils better than many other garden plants.
  • Grasses require little effort to maintain.
  • Grasses come in many heights, colors, textures and have varying water requirements.
  • Grass seed heads and foliage add fall and winter interest.
    Dried grasses have many decorative uses indoors and out.
  • Grasses can be used as groundcovers, specimen plants, for erosion control, and as vertical design elements.
  • The term ornamental grass is used to include not only true grasses (Gramineae) but close relatives such as sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes (Juncaceae), and others.
  • Few pests bother grasses. About the only maintenance required is the once a year spring shearing.

Ornamental Grasses


Other 'All About' Pages

Free Garden Designs

Gardening 'How To'

Plant Files

Tips for the Month
Topics of Interest

D-I-Y Projects
FREE Designs
Map to Nursery
Receive periodic tips and reminders, new product reviews, valuable coupons and more! Sign Up
Other All About Pages
Annual Flowers
Birds & Wildlife
Butterfly Gardens
Container Gardens
Container Water Gardens
Cottage Gardens
Crape Myrtles
Landscape Edging/Borders
Fall Blooming Plants
Lawns / Lawn Grasses
Grasses - Ornamental
Groundcover Plants
Hedge & Screen Plants
Japanese Gardens
Landscaping Terms
Organic Gardening
Perennial Plants
Rock Gardens
Shade Gardens
Spring Bulbs
Summer Bulbs
Water Gardens / Ponds
Japanese Maples