An ornamental grass hedge

To give the new patio by the pond some privacy I want to employ ornamental grasses. They must manage a three season showing including winter. While prairie grasses are a part of the yard, ornamental varieties tend to have better structure than their native species.

The space will only accomodate about 3 feet of depth between the patio, pond, and lawn. Originally I purchased Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ because of its gorgeous flower heads that shine in the winter sun. Unfortunately in full sun they grow to a width of 4 feet. While half the area I am planting will only get afternoon sun, I don’t know that 4 feet will work.

Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ in late October. Grown in mostly shade it does not get large or loaded with snow.

Another choice might be Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ The flowerheads are a deep rose and would glimmer in the sun. A shorter version of miscanthus is ‘Little Zebra’ a variety with a bit of yellow. I really want a seemless pallete between blue grass and hedge. And wow is this pretty, as is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’

Miscanthus Grasses at Tagawa Gardens

If my site were full sun I would also look into Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ A type of switchgrass with sturdy upright habit. It tends to flop over in partial shade. Though the grass may stand up better to heavy winter snows. The nice thing about this grass is that its a variety based on a native grass. It grows to 5′ feet with a 3 foot spread. ‘Dallas Blues’ is another variety of switchgrass with beautiful seed heads. Paired with coneflower seed heads in winter it would be beautiful.

Panicum virgatum in January after a few snows. Not sure of variety, perhaps Northwind. This specimen in at least 6 hours sun a day. With its seed heads its 44 inches tall.

Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Overdam’ has an upright habit like the well known ‘Karl Foerster’ but has variegated leaves and is shorter maxing at about 44 inches.

After looking at the height I need and the width of the area it seems Calamagrostis may be the winner.

Search for grasses like Panicum virgatum, Miscanthus sinensis

Another interesting site for viewing the fall and winter gardens are:

Hoffman Nursery has an article on grasses includes Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Zebra’ and a variety of Panicums in making-winter-interesting

Nancy Ondra and her Hayefield Top Plants article shows many grasses of varying heights and how they play along side here favorite plants. She has a lovely large garden.

One also can’t miss Nigel Dunnet’s pictures of Calamagrotis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silver Feather’ grasses at London Olympic Park – Asia Garden. In other articles he walks through the creation of each landscape from concept to completion. Such an inspiration.

For more information on ornamental grasses in general see Utah State Extension’s article, Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape

Another option not considered as an ornamental is Slender wheatgrass.

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.