Garden ideas: how to combine ornamental grasses

Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) and Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

Blue Oat Grass and Bronze Carex (Carex testacea)

Blue Oat Grass, Bronze Carex, and Blue Moor Grass (Sesleria caerulea). I photographed this front  yard garden from the side to show how the grasses  are planted in undulating drifts. The two sides are actually separated by a front walkway.


Why grow grasses? They give you a casual, modern beauty. They are hardy, easy to care for, and there are tons of varieties that all look great together and mix easily with other plants.  They rustle and sway in the wind. Many (like Stipa gigantea) give you dramatic seed heads that arch high above the clumps.

Choose two or three ornamental grass varieties  that offer some contrast  between size, color, and texture. Plant them in drifts, instead of mixing or alternating them. The grasses used in this garden are evergreen and don’t need to be cut back. Just clean them up once in a while and replace them when they  every few years. Black wood mulch was used throughout the entire garden to unify things and to make the plantings really pop. (‘Modern Inspiration’ garden from the Gamble Garden Tour)

2 thoughts on “Garden ideas: how to combine ornamental grasses

  1. Great ideas for combinations! Note, though that Blue Oat Grass (helictotrichon sempervirens) is not Karl Forester (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) as noted in your top picture.

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