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PLANT PROFILES: UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASS

A relative newcomer to the planting design palette…

UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASSES add unique texture few other categories provide. Their popularity first arose with the Prairie style at the turn of the century in rebuke to manicured, exotic gardens—lending a more modern aesthetic when laid out geometrically. However with the New Perennial movement these prairie natives enjoy favored status in the contemporary or native garden in more natural arrangements.

Ornamental grasses allow unique opportunities for height, textural juxtaposition, and for highlighting companion plants. Their straw yellow appearance in winter is great for highlighting redtwig dogwoods or dried coneflower heads. And they’re great for adding unique flower texture around late summer to early autumn. Like the finer textured blades, ornamental grass seed heads add soft sprays to the landscape that compliment every color palette due to their neutral tone. There are even some cultivars whose blades develop purple, red, or blue!

 

LARGE TREE ORNAMENTAL TREE LARGE FLOWERING SHRUB MID-FLOWERING SHRUB LOW-SPREADING SHRUB UPRIGHT EVERGREEN LOW-SPREADING EVERGREEN
FLOWERING PERENNIAL FOLIAGE PERENNIAL UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASS SHRUB-LIKE ORNAMENTAL GRASS FLOWERING GROUNDCOVER EVERGREEN GROUNDCOVER VINE

 

KEMORA PICKS Bamboo, Feather Reed Grass, Little Bluestem,  Silvergrass, Switch Grass

SUN Full Sun to Light Shade
ORNAMENTAL INTERESTS
UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASSES provide an architectural presence in the landscape with
unique winter interest when blades dry to straw yellow. Most species offer a softer texture than other plant varieties so are great for juxtaposing opposite large leaf varieties.
DESIGN USE
Since UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
are a taller presence in the landscape, use
as an anchoring element behind mid-low shrubs, perennials, or groundcover. Great for hiding smaller utilities such as A/C units.
ALTERNATIVES
Like the texture of UPRIGHT ORNAMENTAL GRASSES but hate their height? Some varieties of SHRUB-LIKE ORNAMENTAL GRASS evoke the same fine texture that billow more outward than up.
Karl Foerster Grass Photo Credit: daryl_mitchell via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]; Little Bluestem Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr [CC BY 2.0];
Switchgrass Photo Credit: Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr [
CC BY 2.0].

Plant info found on Google is not always precise as it is an aggregate of information from around the world—so we want to share our observations from years of getting our hands dirty in the Second City. This post is the latest in one of our newest series, PLANT PROFILES, where we explore each plant category as well as the preferred species of Kemora. We love plants which in turn gives us a trained eye for trouble-shooting them. And it is our hope you will come to love them too!

Kemora Landscapes is a full-service design, build, and maintenance company based in Chicago.

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