When we think about grasses, most of us think about turf grasses, but there are ornamental grasses that can enhance your garden. Being as attractive in winter after their tops have dried as they are in summer, they are considered a four season plant. Keeping them in bounds is not a problem because they grow in clumps, increasing slowly over the years. Planted in groups throughout the garden, grasses provide vertical accents. In perennial beds they can be used to keep aggressive plants from encroaching on other plants.
There is no maintenance free plant but ornamental grasses come close. They grow in most garden soil, rarely need watering once established and pest and diseases rarely bother them. Most like full sun but there are a few that tolerate light shade.
You are probably familiar with the large Pampas Grass, but the Purple Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass (several varieties available), Zebra Grass, Blue Fescue and several others are also available at most nurseries. So, next time you visit a nursery, look at the ornamental grasses and find a place in your landscape for some.
Sue Adee, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service