Grasses 29 Stories

Inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is one of the showiest native grasses, with its elegant bamboo-like wide leaves that drape over narrow green stems. With a large native range, including the U.S. Southeast, it adapts to many soil types and thrives in wet, shady sites. Collect and...
Small Gem Lawns: More Impact From Less Grass
Backyard lawns often have been the background music in the garden, the understated foil to flower borders, trees and shrubs. Today, however, people are rethinking the notion of the sprawling, wall-to-wall, nondescript lawn. Not...
Great Design Plant: Little Bluestem Goes Above and Beyond
Many native grasses are now available for sale in local nurseries. If you have not tried any in your landscape, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is an excellent choice. This charming grass does not lack admirable attributes; beyond the...
Great Design Plant: Purple Needle Grass, California’s State Grass
Selected as the official California state grass in 2004, purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra) has a tough constitution and showy awns, making this native bunchgrass an option for low-water home gardens and restoration projects...
Meet a Lawn Alternative That Works Wonders
For a few years I’ve been experimenting with sedges, namely Carex spp; many of the species are native to the United States. Lawns and I are in a relationship defined by benign neglect and occasional...
How to Get Your Prairie On
I have to admit that the first time I saw a prairie wasn't until the spring of 2007, when my wife and I were looking for a wedding reception venue. We ended up at Spring Creek Prairie, a never-plowed 800-acre remnant 20 minutes southwest of our city....
Energize Your Landscape With Masses of Grasses
Growing up with a meadow in my backyard informed my love of grasses in the garden, but building, observing and managing gardens gave me confidence in grasses' effectiveness. The way they dance in the wind, reflect and diffuse light, create shadows and...
Great Design Plant: Lively Fountain Grass Thrives Just About Anywhere
Here's a grass that I would describe as exuberant — animated, jaunty, vivacious, spirited, playful, bright and buoyant. Words out of a dictionary, but when a plant can give you these qualities in a landscape you want to sit up and take notice. The graceful...
Great Design Plant: Deer Grass
Plants should look good in the garden, but they should also do good too. Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) is a no-brainer: native, adaptable, wildlife food source and shelter. It’s said that the successful...
Great Design Plant: Blue Fescue
Without doubt, certain plants are strongly tied to specific garden styles and are limited by climate and available square footage. But the last thing I'm looking for in landscape design is another rule to follow. Grasses are exceedingly flexible — which...
House, Meet Landscape: How Integrated Gardens Came to Be
When I think of the influence English garden design has had on gardens throughout the Western world, cottage gardens and Arts...
Let Nature Inspire Your Landscape: Grasslands to Garden
When it comes to choosing a style for a garden project, many people turn to cultural references: Japanese restraint, rigorously laid-out French parterres,...
Great Design Plant: Blue Oat Grass
While brilliant spring and summer colors awaken landscapes, and fiery fall color is a seasonal spectacle, sometimes you just need to cool down. Let's cool down with blue — blue oat grass, a must-know low-maintenance pick for calming color year-round....
Great Design Plant: Indian Grass
In my experience there are few grasses that can hold up to the drought-deluge cycle of a plains summer, but Indian grass is one of them. A native to tall-grass prairies, it's often found alongside big bluestem and switchgrass, residing on slopes and in...
Great Design Plant: 'Shenandoah' Switchgrass
September brings a change in the air — it’s almost tangible. Cooler evenings have us hunting for our favorite sweater again, heavy morning dew reveals the cobwebs spun overnight by busy spiders, and an indefinable fragrance tells us that fall has...
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