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3 Great Garden Grasses to Add Texture and Movement to Your Garden

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Easy Ornamental Grasses for Your Landscape

Grasses make superb additions to a flower garden or mixed border—it's important to go a little further than a mere riot of color when designing your garden! Texture and movement are also important elements, and grasses can easily provide you with this.

Many people are afraid of grasses because they fear they'll self-seed in a weedy manner, but I can assure you that these three will not do so at all. (All three of my picks require full sun and well-drained soil.)

I just love the way Mexican feather grass catches the light. I plant it everywhere I can!

I just love the way Mexican feather grass catches the light. I plant it everywhere I can!

1. Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima)

My first grass is Mexican feather grass. This beauty is low growing, reaching almost two feet (that's just 60 centimetres), and semi-evergreen. It looks as great in a container as it does in the open border.

This grass is hardy to 14˚F (-10˚C). It seeds a little bit in the border, but never enough to be an issue. The only maintenance required is to sometimes cut it back in early spring, but this seldom even needs to be done in my climate.

I love this grass and use it everywhere in my garden where I have full sun. I just love how the sun catches its feathery panicles and how well it shows off adjacent flowers.

Red Tussock Grass requires no maintenance and adds gorgeous movement to the garden.

Red Tussock Grass requires no maintenance and adds gorgeous movement to the garden.

2. Red Tussock Grass (Chionochloa rubra)

Red tussock grass is as close to a no-maintenance plant as anyone can ever get. This evergreen grass forms a dense tussock with slender, red-tinted flower stems to nearly 5 feet (or 1.5 metres).

It requires a little more moisture than the other two grasses—and better drainage in winter—but it's hardier, tolerating temperatures as low as -4˚F (-20˚C). And the best thing of all is that you never have to do a thing to this grass: no cutting back, no neatening up, nothing. It's just wonderful every season of the year.

Golden Oat Grass is a tall plant (see that one in the background?) with lovely honey-colored flowers.

Golden Oat Grass is a tall plant (see that one in the background?) with lovely honey-colored flowers.

3. Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea)

Golden oat grass is a robust, tufted evergreen grass that reaches to maybe 6.5 feet or 2 metres, with arching panicles of oat-like flowers which ripen to gold. It looks fabulous when planted on a corner, and although tall, it's very light and airy and doesn't give a heavy impression at all.

Although this grass is evergreen, I find that a trim in spring does wonders for neatening up its appearance. Golden oat grass is hardy to 14˚F (-10˚C).

Happy Growing!

So my best advice is to experiment a little—try one or three of these grasses and see if you like them. And who knows, it will probably tempt you to try a few more. Happy growing!

More Ornamental Grasses for the Garden

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Rachel Darlington

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