Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ornamental grasses are beautiful in landscapes

By
October 22, 2010 |

By Debbie Hager
UCCE / El Dorado County Master Gardener

The beauty of ornamental grasses is very apparent in the fall when the inflorescences (seed heads) are large and their foliage glows in the autumn light.  Grasses offer a sense of movement in the garden and display seasonal changes. Ornamental grasses add texture, form and sound to the garden. They look good all season long with minimal care.

Grasses are easy to grow in most types of soil. Most grasses require only average water once established and some are very drought tolerant and enjoy full sun. Another plus to ornamental grasses is that deer rarely bother them.

Grasses require at most, one annual pruning. Some types can get by with only occasional trimming, every few years.  It’s a matter of choice whether you cut back your ornamental grasses in late fall or early spring. The perennial grasses that die back in winter can be rejuvenated by cutting the foliage of the grass back to within three to four inches above the crown of the plant. Don’t wait too long or you risk cutting off the tips of the new season’s growth. Many evergreen grasses and sedges do not need to be cut back yearly and many grow attractively for a number of years with minor grooming.

Grasses grow from a root crown that sits at or below the soil level. Over time the new growth may only appear at the outside edges of the plant and the center dies out.  This condition indicates that too much woody, old growth has smothered the room for new growth.

Such plants can usually be renewed by division and transplanting. For small and medium sized grasses, it is best to lift clumps from the ground with a sharp trowel or spade and use a knife to divide the clumps. Discard dead material from the center and replant healthy live divisions from outside of the center clump. Divisions should be thoroughly watered immediately following planting.

A sharp, sturdy spade is necessary for dividing larger grasses. Mature grasses are often too big and heavy to be lifted in one piece.  First, section the ground around the grass with a spade by cutting a circle around the clump, then, lift it out. Replant the division in same manner as the small and medium sized grasses. Gloves are important to protect your hands against cuts because some grasses have sharp leaf margins. Dividing grasses can be done in the late fall or early spring. Replant as soon as possible after dividing; don’t let the grass roots dry out. Keep the grass divisions well watered until you see signs of new growth.

Grasses are excellent container plants. Ornamental grasses planted as bold specimen plants should have enough open space around them to show off their arching or vertical habit and their bloom inflorescences. Most grasses prefer full sun, but Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) prefers shade and has a beautiful tumbling wave form. Foerster’s feather reed grass (Calamagrostis arundinacea ‘Karl Foerster’) has a striking vertical form that looks great in narrow spaces. It has upright dark green foliage and fluffy blooms in spring that turn into attractive buff spikes that last all summer and fall. Foerster is a UC Davis Arboretum All Star plant as is deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens). Deer grass is a California native plant. It can grow five feet high and three feet wide and makes a bold statement in any garden. Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) has fine textured, soft green foliage and is beautiful as it moves in the breeze. It happily reseeds, however, so be forewarned as it can become invasive.

Grasses look beautiful combined with summer and fall blooming perennials like ornamental sages (Salvias), coneflowers (Echinacea) and bee balm (Monarda).  Planted individually as specimens, in groups or in containers, few plants offer as much in the way of year round interest and beauty as grasses do. Once established, ornamental grasses need very little in terms of supplemental water, fertilizer or maintenance.

Learn about using a different type of grass in a new way in your garden. UCCE Master Gardeners will present a free class on “Straw Bale Gardening” on Saturday, Oct. 30. The class starts at 9 a.m. and will be held in the Veterans Memorial Building at 130 Placerville Dr. in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome.  The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville. For more information about our public education classes and activities, go to the Master Gardener Website at ceeldorado.ucdavis.edu/Master_Gardener/.

Comments

comments

Master Gardner

.

News

 
District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

 
Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

 
Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
.

Sports

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

 
Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

.

Prospecting

Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

 
Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

 
Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

 
Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

 
Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

.

Comics

.

Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17