Colorful Garden With Succulents & Ornamental Grasses
A mix of ornamental grasses, succulents and foliage plants create a colorful entry to this home. A gravel walkway cuts through the garden, with the low-growing plants, including a mature aloe vera, closest to the edge.
Natural boulders and rocks were worked into the design of this Asian-inspired front yard. Ornamental grasses, pieris Japonica, loropetalum and other low-maintenace plants fit with the garden's Zen feel while being easy to care for so the homeowners can maintain the garden's simple appeal.
Ornamental grasses steal the show in autumn, with eye-catching seedheads and blades that move in the wind. ‘Prairie Fire’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) forms sturdy, upright clumps that stand up to winter snows. Blue-green stems and wine-red leaves look great through the growing season. Rosy-tinted flower heads appear in late summer and linger into winter. Switch grass is a great plant for wildlife gardens, providing good winter cover for birds and insects. Plants grow 48 to 60 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Miniature Fountain Grass
Perfect for pots or the front of a border, ‘Burgundy Bunny’ miniature fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) brings cute color to any setting. This small ornamental grass showcases light red hue in summer, followed by blazing reds in fall. The small seedheads appear in late summer and linger until harsh winter weather blasts them apart. This grass works well in rock gardens or low water-use landscapes. Plants grow 12 to 16 inches tall and up to 16 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Mirrored Front Yard Rain Gardens
Consider designing a pair of mirrored rain gardens to flank a central walkway. By the second growing season, these beds will sparkle as lush gardens filled with shrubs, ornamental grasses, sedges, corkscrew rush, perennials and evergreens. A stone spillway directs rain water runoff from nearby hard surfaces into the rain garden basin. On the lower side, an overflow spillway and drainage pipe shifts rain water runoff to nearby storm sewer channels when heavy rains fill the rain garden to overflowing. Including an overflow spillway helps ensure water doesn’t backflow to swamp your home’s foundation.
Ornamental grasses combine well with perennials, especially native plants like Tennessee purple coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis). A planting partner for purple coneflower is ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass (Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’), which offers a strong stem structure that stands up to summer storms and winter snow. ‘Blonde Ambition’ doesn’t self-sow aggressively, so it won’t take over perennial plantings. This plant combination is ideal for a wildlife-friendly garden. ‘Blonde Ambition’ grows 28 to 32 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Modern Garden with Cement Planter, Bluestone and Seating
A circular seating area reflects the garden's lower level design. The designer embraced the cement walls and added polished concrete planters. The bluestone paved area and the long cement planter are in permanent shade, so the planting consists of plants that can grow in the shade environment. The area by the grass is super sunny and required plants that thrive in those conditions.
Get the look of an ornamental grass with ‘Bowles Golden’ sedge (Carex elata). This grassy plant pumps out gold leaves that bring a soft glow to part shade bog gardens. Sedge can grow in water 2 to 3 inches deep and does best in acidic soil. Most importantly, it needs constant moisture to thrive. ‘Bowles’ Golden’ carex looks great planted with blue hosta or dark leaf heuchera. Plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8.
Ornamental grasses can be perennial or annual, depending on where you garden. Tall ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’) is a perennial in Zones 5-9. It forms a fountain-like clump 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide. The fuzzy heads of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) appear in summer atop plants that grow up to 3 feet tall and wide. This grass is tropical, hardy in Zones 9-11. In colder regions, treat it as an annual.
If you’re looking for an ornamental grass that delivers fall interest, check out Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha). Large, foot-long seedhead plumes soar above leaves in late summer, donning a pink tinge that matures to tan. Seedheads dry well and make a nice addition to dried arrangements, or let them age naturally in the garden where they’ll add interest all winter long. Korean feather reed grass likes moist soil and tolerates heavy clay soil. Cut plants to the ground in early spring. Leaves grow 36 inches tall and 20 to 24 inches wide. Seedheads stand 12 inches above leaves. Hardy in Zones 4-9.