Understanding ornamental grass basics
Ornamental grasses range in size from 6-inch-tall Fescue to clumps of Miscanthus that grow 8 feet tall or higher. Even bamboo is technically a grass. Grasses can be sustainable elements in the landscape as long as they're climate adapted, noninvasive, and the right size.
Read up on the grasses in a good plant encyclopedia or one of the many books that specialize in ornamental grasses. Ask other gardeners or local nursery people about what works best in your area.
Here are some of the basic benefits of using grasses:
- Many species tolerate or prefer poor soil and require little or no fertilizer.
- Unlike lawn grasses, they don't need much in the way of water.
- They're generally pest free.
- They sequester a lot of carbon, which helps mitigate global warming.
- They grow quickly and live a long time in most cases.
- They resist browsing by deer and other animals.
On the other hand, grasses do have some problems:
- Weeds: The most vexing problem is weeds. If you've ever tried to pull two grassy plants apart, you know that it's like trying to break up a dogfight. Multiply this situation by a yard full of grasses and you've got yourself a hobby. The answer is to choose drought-tolerant varieties and be sure to pull weeds when they're young.
- Invasiveness: Avoid using invasive varieties, such as fountain grass, pampas grass, big and little bluestem, Miscanthus, and Nassella tenuis-sima; they become weeds, and some can even harm wild ecosystems. They can be nearly impossible to get rid of. What's harmless in one area can be pernicious in another, so check ornamental grass books for bad guys and talk to your local cooperative extension office for locally troublesome species.
- Fiery dispositions: Some grasses are highly flammable. In fact, most wildfires start in dry grasses. Irrigate enough to keep them green, and periodically remove dead foliage by hand or cut the plants back hard in early spring.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.
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