Ornamental grasses present the opportunity to lend a significant amount of style to any gardening or landscaping plan. These grasses vary in size, shape, color and texture and thus can be easily incorporated into the simplest meadow or a sophisticated Japanese garden. These unusual species of grass allow those with a creative spirit to utilize them in ways in which they can become either the focal point or just a part of the background.
Ornamental grasses are ideal for creating a meadow. Popular plants for meadows include Indian grass and sidalcea. The key to successfully using ornamental plants in a meadow is to choose grasses that thrive in your specific climate and soil conditions. Another important component is eradicating weeds during your preparation of the site.
Smaller water features can be given an extra level of textural interest with the addition of ornamental grasses. Look for smaller species that grow especially well in moist soil conditions or in shallow water. Recommended plants include miniature cattail, palm sedge, dwarf horsetail and California gray rush. Options include inserting the plants directly into the water feature container or planting them behind a birdbath.
Low-growing ornamental grasses can be effectively used for erosion control. Planting species like needle grass, giant wild rye and atlas fescue on sloping terrain works to hold the soil in place while providing an aesthetic quality in their broad sweeps across the hill.
Ornamentation between stepping stones is a useful property of low-maintenance grasses like hard fescue. The low growth of similar ornamental grasses produce a vividly colored textural contrast to the material used for paving stones.
Bamboo is one of the more unusual types of ornamental grasses. The height of bamboo can range anywhere from mere inches to more than 100 feet high. This diversity allows bamboo to be utilized in a number of creative ways. A Japanese Zen garden really can't be called a Japanese Zen garden without the presence of bamboo. Bamboo can also become a central character in a regular garden when used as a fence behind your plants or tied together to create a trellis.
A container garden can easily benefit from the addition of a variety of ornamental grasses including New Zealand hair sedge, Japanese forest grass and spiky cordyline. The diversity of shapes, sizes and colors easily lends an extra dimension to a container garden consisting of ferns, vines and flowers.
Ornamental grasses can be displayed alone as the prime attraction inside a vase or used for textural contrast to a vase dominated by flowers. Look to species like umbrella plant as a showcase grass while lemon grass, gulf muhly and purpletop are all effective additions to a vase filled with roses.
Another aesthetic use for ornamental plants is to use them for edging around flower beds or trees or around a rock garden. Slowly spreading species like striped bulbous oat grass is a good choice for edging around a tree as it can reach a height of 10 inches. Japanese forest grass makes a dramatic impact when used for edging as it can rise as high as three feet.