Ornamental Grasses & What You Need to Know

Ornamental grasses provide height, texture, movement, and visual interest to any landscape, and come in a vast array of colors, shapes, and sizes. As little as a few decades ago ornamental grasses were considered a novelty and used mainly by industry professionals and experienced gardeners— but as their availability and reputation as low maintenance, eco-friendly plants have increased they can now be found in garden beds and containers across the country. If you're considering adding one or more varieties to your landscape, the seasoned professionals at The Grounds Guys® can help you choose the perfect decorative grasses to suit your unique environment and give you some great tips on how to make sure they continue to thrive.

Person touching ornamental grass

How to Grow Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are exceptionally hardy and able to grow in a variety of soil conditions. Most types are drought tolerant and free of insects and disease, and blend in well with other flowers and shrubs. Maximize your investment and satisfaction by learning how to grow them and don't forget to include landscape lighting to show off your garden at night.

When to Plant

Annual grasses should be planted in the spring and will only last through one growing season. Perennial grasses, however, can be planted in either the spring or fall and will continue to come back year after year.

Where to Plant

The two main considerations for location are the availability of sunlight and water in accordance with the needs of the type of grass you are planting. Most varieties prefer full sun but there are a few that may tolerate or prefer partially sunny or shady areas. Information about the requirements for each plant can be found on the tag, including whether they like well-drained, moderately fertile soil or one that is richer.

Growth Habits

Begin by planting your grasses at the same depth as they were in the pot to avoid water pooling, and space them with consideration for their full-grown size. Some decorative grasses grow in clumps while others spread, and while the latter type is perfect for filling in a large, empty area they can become invasive.

Additional Tips

  • For maximum visual impact plant your clumping grasses in groups of three.
  • If a clump becomes too large or the center area is bare dig it up in the spring and divide the root ball before replanting.
  • Prior to new growth in the spring cut back your grasses to between four and six inches in height.

Caring for Your Decorative Grasses


Apply a slow release fertilizer in the spring as needed, making sure to water it in thoroughly. By keeping nitrogen levels relatively low you can prevent the grass from flopping over and the leaves colorful and healthy.


Plants should be watered well during the initial season they are planted in order to promote a solid root system. Established plants should only require supplemental watering during periods of drought, although the exact requirements will depend on the individual variety.

Weed Control

Control the growth of weeds around your grasses with a layer of mulch, which can also help to prevent unwanted reseeding.

Tips for Choosing the Right Ornamental Grasses

  • Choose grasses that are suitable for the light and soil conditions around your property
  • Plant tall ornamental grasses for privacy.
  • Warm-season grasses begin to grow later in the spring up until the first frost, while cool-season grasses tend to grow from late winter to early summer.

For expert assistance with all your landscaping needs, contact the experts at The Ground Guys. 

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighborly company. Learn more at Neighborly.com