[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
Ornamental grasses offer a fantastic low maintenance and sustainable solution for landscaping design. They have four season interest, are mostly drought tolerant, need no staking or pruning, and have no regular insect or disease problems. This means less watering and virtually no pesticides or herbicides need to be used with the plants.
Grasses or Poaceae are a large genus of plant with over 10,000 varieties of species and represent the fifth largest plant family in the world. Grasses feed most of the world; wheat, millet, rice, and corn are all from the grass family. Bamboo is considered a grass and is harvested widely in Asia for its thatch and both ethanol alcohol and ethanol fuel are produced from grain. Ultimately, these plants feed, clothe, and house much of the earth and their sustainable nature makes them an excellent choice for home gardening as well.
With a large range of sizes, ornamental grasses can be substituted for nearly any role in the perennial bed that a perennial or shrub might normally fill. Some grasses like plume grass or dwarf pampas grass grow taller than a person and make an excellent hedge or screen. Feather reed grass makes a wonderful substitute for a fence line, while small carex can be a groundcover solution.
Plant a mix of ornamental grasses and perennial native flowers randomly in repeating patterns of odd numbers for a naturalized prairie look. Choose grasses and flowering plants to match the scale of the site; taller plants for larger spaces, smaller plants for small naturalized gardens. Naturalized plantings look beautiful if designed in planting waves; grouping multiple plants together that are the same variety. Then position feature plants in smaller numbers between and around the waves of larger groupings.
Ornamental grasses have two distinct growth habits; clumping or rhizomatous. Clumping plants are more like a traditional perennial in that the grass will grow in neat mounds. While you can expect some seeding, the plant will generally not become invasive and will get larger in circumference over time. Grasses with rhizomes spread by underground stems and can become intensely invasive. Placing a rhizomatous grass in your perennial border might result in an invasive growing disaster. Understanding the variety of ornamental grass and its growing nature is important to prevent a landscape invasion you do not want.
Plant ornamental grasses when conditions are somewhat rainy to assist with establishment. Most ornamental grasses prefer full sun, but this is not always true, so be sure to understand conditions for the individual grass selected. Prepare soil for planting by mixing in two to three inches of organic matter in the planting bed, adding any soil amendments your soil tests have shown you need.
Grass maintenance is fairly easy. For four seasons of interest it is best to leave your grass standing all winter. In spring cut the grass back by shearing it off near the base. Cut back to two to three inches for shorter grasses, four to five inches for taller grasses. Every three to four years or so you can divide the plant or spade it back in size should it start to grow out of its planting area. Sometimes the center of grass clumps die out as a plant gets older. If this happens, divide the plant, saving some of the plant for the original planting area and give-away or replant the remainder.
About the author of this post:
Shawna Coronado is a successful author, blogger, photographer, and media host who focuses on wellness by teaching green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and anti-inflammatory culinary. Most recently Shawna has written the books “Grow a Living Wall” and “101 Organic Gardening Hacks”.
Shawna campaigns for social and community good – her garden, food, and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues including television news programming, radio broadcasting, and PBS television. You can learn more about Shawna at www.shawnacoronado.com.
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