Is the Grass Always Greener?

Is the grass always greener?

Picture of ‘Prairie Sky’ Switch Grass on the left, courtesy of Kickapoo Creek Nursery.

What to look for when choosing a grass?

While most people’s first idea of grass tends to be of the short green grass we see in our lawns, ornamental grasses come in a large range of heights, colors, and textures. When adding any plant to your landscape its important to know if the needs of the grass will be met in the wanted area (sunlight, soil type, watering needs, etc.), is there enough room for this type of grass, do you want a native grass or a non-native grass, and how aggressive does this grass grow?

What are some common types of grasses that you can use?

Some common types of grasses that you’ll see in professional and DIY landscapings alike are Japanese Silver Grass, Maiden Hair Grass, and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass. These grasses all have the long thin green stalks and leaves with a cream or white flower in the late summer, are low maintenance and drought tolerant, and won’t over take an area once added in.

Native vs. Non-Native Grasses

The benefits of using a non-native grass in landscaping can include curb appeal, the possibility of it not spreading as aggressively, and having more control over the look of the grass. On the other hand, native grasses tend to need less help surviving once established, are good for attracting native pollinators and birds, and add to the general upkeep of the ecosystem you live in.

{Pic of Japanese Blood Grass and Prairie Sky.} Picture of Japanese Blood Grass and Prairie Sky on the right, courtesy of Kickapoo Creek Nursery. Prairie Sky Grass reaches between four and five feet high, has distinctive white lines across blue green leaves. Japanese Blood Grass reaches up to two feet high, has light green leaves that fade to dark red.

Why should you use grasses in landscaping?

Grasses are good for adding color and movement to a landscape without adding much to the overall maintenance or cost. Most grasses are disease resistant as well as non-attractive to pests or deer. As an added bonus, grasses make great privacy screens without the use of fences or trees/shrubs. An ornamental grass can also be used as an anchor in landscapes.

Caring for your Perennial Grass

Grasses are known for their low-maintenance care regimen. Most tolerate both wet and dry soil conditions and thrive in full sun where other perennials or shrubs may not. They do require cutting back or burning to the ground in late winter or before active growth resumes in the spring.


Perennial Grasses Available at Kickapoo Creek Nursery:

Native Prairie Grasses

‘Prairie Sky’ Switch Grass – Plant Height: 4-5 feet, fine blue-green leaves, flowers in autumn (dark pink) with wispy tan seed heads, Native to north American prairies

‘Shenandoah’ – Plant Height: 3-4 feet tall, underground rhizomes, green leaves with red tips (similar to Japanese Blood Grass but taller), native prairie switch grass, blooms in late July with red/pink flowers


Calamagrostis Family

‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass – a hybrid of European Calamagrostis and Asian Calamagrostis, non-invasive, low maintenance, prefers afternoon shade, Plant Height: 3 to 5 feet, narrow growth habit, showy and long lasting golden wheat blooms (Pictured below left)

‘Overdam’ – prefers cool wet areas, clumps, narrow green leaves, feathery flowers creamy white that fades to light pink, 2 feet tall, similar to Karl Foerster but with white variegated leaves

Imperata Family

Japanese Blood Grass – light green leaves that fade to bright red, attractive clumps, 2 feet tall, rhizomes and self-seeding, can be invasive/ aggressive

Miscanthus Family

Japanese Silver Grass – grows from underground rhizomes, Miscanthus family, full to partial sun, Plant Height: 6 to 10 feet tall, Plant Width: 3 to 6 feet (Pictured below)

‘Morning Light’ Maiden Grass – native to East Asia, has feathery pink/red flowers, green blades with creamy white margins giving it a silvery appearance. Full to partial sun, narrow growth habit, Plant Height: 4 to 5 feet

Maiden hair – fine, arching texture, golden-copper plumes that fade in to red in the fall, 6-8 feet tall, silver stripe down the middle of the leaf, full sun

Zebra Grass – Like its name suggests, Zebra Grass is known for its showy striping across its blades, prefers full sun and moist soil but will tolerate drought, coppery plumes in the fall, good as a specimen or hedge, Plant Height: 5 to 7′ feet (Pictured left)

Dwarf Zebra Grass – Striped blades and same overall appearance as the traditional Zebra Grass but with mature height of 3-4 feet tall and 2-3′ wide

Pennisetum Family

‘Hameln’ – native to China, fountain grass, deep green leaves with silvery white fluffy plumes, turns orange-ish in the fall, 2-3 feet tall, full sun or part shade



Sourced from Missouri Botanical Garden,

and Gardening Know How,