Best Ornamental Grass for Landscapes

Uncle’s Elite Eight Ornamental Grasses



Dwarf Hameln Grass

Slender green leaves and tan, wooly, caterpillar-like blooms from mid-summer through autumn. Drought tolerant. Foliage height is 2′ with blooms 3′.

Dwarf Hameln Fountain Grass at the Grass Pad

Maiden Grass

A tall, graceful, and clumping ornamental grass with slender, weeping, and silvery green leaves that turn golden bronze in fall. White, fan-shaped plumes in fall extend above the foliage. Foliage height is 5′ with blooms 7′.

Porcupine Grass 

Green leaves with yellow colored horizontal bands make the ornamental grass stand out. Fast growing 6′-7′ tall. Silvery white plumes rise 2′ above the foliage in fall.

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Beautiful cool season grass with an upright growth habit. Flowers in late spring starting as bright pink to red and fading to buff. Thrives in poor soils. Foliage height 2.5′ to 3.5′ with blooms to 6′.

Shenandoah Switch Grass

Bright red foliage deepens to burgundy by fall. Blooms begin in color, up by early June. A good substitute for Japanese Blood Grass. Foliage height is 2′ to 3′ with 4′ blooms.

Japanese Silver Grass

A creamy-white variegated grass, Reddish-brown feathery seed heads turn to white plumes and contribute to the striking appearance of this grass. Matures at 6′ to 8′ tall and 4′ to 5′ wide. An excellent alternative to Pampas Grass.

Hardy Pampas Grass

Hardy Pampas Grass is a winter-hardy variety of Pampas Grass. Saccharum ravennae ‘Erianthus’ grows to about 5-8 feet and then sends up airy, white plumes that can reach up to 10 feet tall. One of the most popular ornamental grasses, superb as an architectural specimen or broad accent. The foliage has a clumping habit; plant in groups to create a screen or windbreak.

Prairie Blues Bluestem

A selection of Bluestem with gray-blue foliage turning to an orange-red fall color. Produces purplish-bronze fall flowers that age to silvery white. Has an upright growth habit and matures at 3 to 4 feet tall and 1.5’ to 2’ wide.

Annual Purple Fountain Grass

Not Hardy in Mid-West but this one deserves an honorable mention. Working in landscapes as an annual or in containers this is a great plant. Narrow, gracefully arching, burgundy-purple leaves. Foliage height is 3′ with blooms to 4′.

Pruning Ornamental Grasses

Prune anytime after the leaves turn brown, as long as you cut them back before they start growing again in spring. Avoid cutting fresh new growth tips.  

Uncle’s Tip: Start by wrapping a piece of twine around the outside of the grass and tie the foliage into a tight bunch. This way, the grass will stay bundled as you prune and not explode into pieces everywhere. After your grass is tied up, use handheld or powered hedging shears to cut the dead grass leaves. If you’re using powered hedging shears, it’s helpful to have a friend hold up the grass, so it doesn’t fall on you as you cut. Just be careful not to trim anyone’s fingers!


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