But there is a downside to these large grasses - the maintenance. They need to be cut down to about six inches in spring, and many people don't have the time, energy, or capability to do that. I have some Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' on the south side of my home that screen my air conditioners. Standing at about six feet tall and almost three feet in diameter they are absolutely gorgeous, especially when in bloom in fall. I cut them back last week, and man, that was rough. I used hedge trimmers, and that eased some of the labor, but then had to clean up all the blades that were thrown around (three yard carts worth), chasing them as the wind blew them around my neighbor's driveway. The rest of the year I don't have to touch them, but that spring cleanup can be a chore.
A hot trend in ornamental grasses this year is the short grasses, often cultivars of their taller relatives. They still require cutting back, but a smaller plant means less work. They look great interplanted with perennials like Echinacea, Agastache, Liatris, and Calamintha nepeta. Here are a few of my favorites that won't be taller than 30" at maturity.
|Eregrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)|
|Sporobolus heterlepis 'Tara' (Dwarf Prairie Dropseed)|
|Schizachyrium scoparium 'Carousel' (Dwarf Little Bluestem)|
Photo courtesy of the Midwest Groundcovers blog
|My all-time favorite grass - Seslaria autumnalis (Moor Grass)|
|Deschampsia caespitosa 'Goldtau'|
|Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea' (Japanese Forest Grass)|
|Carex pensylvanica (Penssylvania Sedge)|