Thursday, August 23, 2018

Grass You Don't Have To Mow!

by Karen Rose Smith

Not all grass needs to be mowed!  With a more than normal amount of rainfall this summer, my husband has been mowing the grass every five days.  The lawn is lush and green, but if he waits too long between mowings, the grass clippings have to be caught or they leave a brown carpet over parts of the lawn.  

There are, however, grasses that are ornamental in nature and are a gardener's delight.  These decorative grasses can serve a variety of purposes.  First of all, they provide a constantly changing backdrop in the garden beginning in early spring when the old growth is removed and they are trimmed back to the ground.  New growth soon appears and the landscape changes throughout the summer as they reach their full growth and eventually begin to shoot end-of-summer plumes.   

These grasses come in many varieties and sizes.  There are border grasses and others that grow taller than humans.

For the most striking effect, the grasses can be combined with other seasonal perennials that provide color against the lush green shades of the grasses--peonies, knock-out roses, zinnias.   The grasses themselves can be grouped by varying colors.  Some are solid green, others variegated greens and still others bright red.  The dried grasses and remaining plumes also provide interest in the garden during the colder winter months.  The plumes also make striking arrangements in the house and in outside planters mixed with Christmas greenery.  One year we decorated our Christmas tree with the plumes tucked in among the branches.

In addition to their decorative value, ornamental grasses can be used for practical purposes.  Our neighbors have a row of  these grasses planted along the outer edge of their vegetable garden to provide a barrier between the garden and the street.  We use grasses to provide shelter for our outside feral cats.  We try to place outside shelters next to or near tall grasses to provide protection from the elements and other nighttime creatures. 

So consider ornamental grasses for your garden.  They are easy to maintain (other than trimming them in the spring), add beauty and dimension to the garden, and offer protection for wildlife in the yard.

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