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Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape
Low-maintenance grasses add beauty and motion to the garden
Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta that I'll describe as "collected." I got into design via Landscape Architecture, which I studied at the University of Virginia. I've been writing about design online for quite a few years over at Hatch: The Design Public Blog.
Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta... More »
In case you haven't met, please allow me to introduce you to ornamental grasses. These plants come in many varieties, and when they are native and planted in the correct microclimates, they can be very low maintenance. Grasses not only add groundcover and interesting shapes to a landscape; when you add wind they provide movement and sound. To find the variety that is best for your project, I highly recommend visiting your local botanical garden and taking notes, and asking for recommended varieties at an independent nursery in your area.
Planted at regular intervals, Mexican feather grasses provide some low amber waves of grain right next to the patio.
I admit, I just picked this photo of Bunny Tail grasses mixed with Kangaroo Paw because I love the composition of the photographs. You can see the whole front yard in the next photo.
Here grasses have replaced a typical American front lawn. This is an eco-friendly choice, as one of the biggest sources of non-point source pollution in the United States is our lawns (i.e. fertilizer runoff during a storm).
This entire site plays with mixing vernacular and modern architecture. Case in point: This Mexican feather grass looks as though it could have been plucked from a large field of agricultural wheat, and pokes out from a crisp rectangle cut into the decking. It's a really clever move that helps set the tone of the modern barn-inspired building.
Another way to keep the wild shape of grasses in line is with planters. Here the planters and grasses are scaled so that they create a strong line and provide a screen that separates two outdoor rooms.
Here another strong line is created using grasslike sedges contained in planters. The shape of each clump of grass is a good contrast to all of those straight lines, yet they still add vertical elements that punctuate the wall.
Here grasses lend a very different geometry, rounded mounds, as well as an unexpected silver-green color. Huettl Landscape Architecture used Festuca 'Elijah blue' in the foreground with Blue Oat Grass and Berkeley sedge beyond the gravel oval.
This container full of grasses creates a great view from above.
This landscape architect has gained inspiration from the surrounding marsh grasses and brought grasses into the his plant palette. They connect the built part of the landscape to its natural surroundings.
This yard is absolutely stunning and functional, yet has none of that typical American lawn in sight. Tall feather reed grasses add height and color to this built landscape.
Here Mexican feather grass was chosen for its architectural simplicity and easy maintenance.
The built part of this landscape is nestled into a beautiful meadow of undulating grasses and wildflowers.
Using big wild grasses just beyond the edge provided by this low stone wall increases the drama, as it makes the wall look like it's the only thing between the patio and the plants completely taking over.
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Ideabook updated on June 3, 2012.
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