Ornamental Grasses to Grace Your Yard This Fall

Ornamental grasses.
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Ornamental grasses are decorative and thrive in a variety of climates and types of soil, making them incredibly easy to take care of. They can spruce up your yard in a jiffy, unlike many other plants that don’t always make it through the colder weather. Ornamental grasses can sprout a variety of beautiful colors all year long, and only require small amounts of water and minimal maintenance. Most gardening tips for ornamental grass only suggest trimming them right when spring begins, so most of the old, dead parts of the plants are cut away, leaving room for all the new growth with the new season. A little water, a little trimming, and your yard will have an energetic vibe this fall.

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora)

A very adaptable type of ornamental grass, feather reed grass can be planted in moist or dry areas and does best in partial sun. It’s a tough plant that can handle harsh weather conditions and is tolerant in the winter. New plants will need watering until they mature and adjust to their new spot, but they won’t need much water after that—they can make it through a drought, in case you live in an area that sometimes has watering restrictions. Since feather reed grass is such a flexible plant, it can survive almost anywhere and is resistant to bugs and other pests. A shorter type of grass, it grows to be around two feet tall, but the flower stalks can grow to be six feet tall, which can continue to burst with color through the fall season.

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum rubrum)

purple fountain grass

Purple fountain grass tends to bloom in the summer, but maintains its deep color through autumn and into early winter, which can add a burst of color to your yard. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful types of ornamental grasses, and blooms burgundy leaves with red, spiky flowers through the fall. This ornamental grass will typically grow to be three to five feet tall and a few feet wide, and does best in full sunlight. While it can survive in colder climates, it’s deemed to be an “annual” in these areas since it’s considered a tropical plant from warmer climates. Like many ornamental grasses, it does best in soil that drains quickly, rather than in moist areas, due to its deep root system.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

This is another tough type of ornamental grass, one which begins semi-blue, then boasts traditional copper fall colors with some reds and pinks during the fall months. Little bluestem is drought-resistant, loves the full sun, and does well in areas that may otherwise have soil erosion. It does well in just about any type of soil, and grows about two feet tall and two feet wide. Watering deeply is required after planting, as with the other grasses, but can be lessened as it adjusts to the soil—especially if it’s planted where water runs when it rains, and prevents the soil from washing away.

Dwarf Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana pumila)

Pampas grass.

In the fall, dwarf pampas grass blooms with stalks of white flowers that can grow up to 10 feet tall, unlike most other ornamental grasses. The grass part of the plant itself only grows three to five feet tall, and a few feet wide. It is well-suited for dry, warm climates such as the desert, mainly because it is wind and drought-resistant, but can also look pretty when glittered with snow. Dwarf pampas grass can be invasive, however, and the plants must be dug up and separated every few years to prevent them from spreading too much and taking over. This makes it a great choice for creating plant “walls” or barriers between yards.

Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens)

Sometimes considered an alternative to pampas grass, deergrass grows less quickly and blooms in the fall with purple spikes above lighter-colored stems. It’s heat and drought-resistant, but is very tolerant of colder temperatures, as well. A very simple plant, this one does well in nature gardens since it doesn’t need a lot of tending to. The plants themselves tend to grow up to five feet tall and around three feet wide. Remove dead parts of the plant to make room for new parts to grow.

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