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26 Best Ornamental Grasses for Low Maintenance Yards

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Ornamental grasses in a gardenOrnamental grasses in a garden

Ornamental grasses are incredibly versatile plants in a landscape. They come in a variety of heights, from towering over your head to just a few inches tall.

Some types require lots of sun, while others don’t mind a little shade. There are even ornamental grasses that offer interest throughout all four seasons.

Here are 26 of the best ornamental grasses for landscaping your yard. I’ll share the top picks and everything you need to grow and care for them.

1. Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue on the groundBlue Fescue on the ground

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.
Size: 6 to 10 inches tall and wide.
USDA Zones: 4 to 8.

Blue Fescue is a popular choice among the most popular ornamental grasses. Its bright green leaves form dense, clump-forming clumps that add texture and interest to any landscape.

What makes Blue Fescue special is its unique color. Unlike most grasses, it boasts a blue-green hue that stands out beautifully against other green leaves in your garden.

In addition to its striking color, Blue Fescue is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant that thrives in a variety of conditions, from full sun to light shade.

It’s also deer-resistant, making it a great choice for gardeners in areas with a high deer population. The grass produces seed heads in early spring, which transform into stunning silver-blue plumes by late winter.

With its hardy nature and eye-catching color, Blue Fescue is a fantastic addition to any garden, whether it’s a large landscape or a small meadow. It’s particularly effective when planted in masses or used as a border plant.

Plus, its drought-resistant qualities make it an excellent choice for gardeners seeking to conserve water. With all these attributes, it’s no wonder Blue Fescue is a favorite among both novice and master gardeners.

2. Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass with green leaves and wheat-colored seedheadsFountain Grass with green leaves and wheat-colored seedheads

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 2-4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide
USDA Zones: 5-9

Fountain Grass is a popular variety among ornamental grasses, known for its graceful, arching stalks and bright green leaves. This clump-forming grass adds texture and movement to any landscape, creating a meadow-like ambiance with its soft, feathery plumes.

What sets this grass apart is its late summer bloom, where it sports beautiful, wheat-colored seed heads. These plumes persist through late winter, adding interest to the garden even in the colder months.

Fountain Grass is also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a low-maintenance choice for any gardener.

Its ability to thrive in a range of conditions, from full sun to light shade, and its preference for well-drained soil, even clay, makes it adaptable and easy to grow.

Plus, its drought-resistant nature means it can handle periods of low moisture. For gardeners seeking a beautiful, easy-care addition to their landscape, Fountain Grass is a top choice.

3. Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem green leavesLittle Bluestem green leaves

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 2 to 4 feet tall, 1.5 to 2 feet wide
USDA Zones: 3 to 9

Little Bluestem is a native grass that adds a unique texture and color to any landscape. This low-maintenance, clump-forming ornamental grass thrives in full sun to part shade and prefers well-drained soil.

Its slender, upright stalks are adorned with green leaves that turn a bright green in the summer and transition to a striking copper in the fall.

What makes Little Bluestem special is its adaptability and resilience. It’s drought-resistant, making it a perfect choice for gardeners in drier climates, and it’s also deer-resistant, so it won’t become a snack for local wildlife.

In late winter to early spring, this grass produces attractive seed heads that add interest to the winter garden.

Any gardener should consider growing Little Bluestem for its easy care and year-round beauty. It forms neat clumps that can be used as a meadow plant or as part of a mixed border.

4. Switchgrass

Switchgrass green leaves under full sunSwitchgrass green leaves under full sun

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Switchgrass is a native grass that is both versatile and beautiful. It’s a clump-forming, drought-tolerant plant that’s perfect for adding texture to your landscape.

The bright green leaves turn golden yellow in the fall, providing a stunning contrast to the copper-colored seed heads that appear in late summer.

What makes Switchgrass special is its adaptability. It thrives in a variety of soil conditions, including clay, and is drought-resistant, making it a low-maintenance choice for any garden.

Its tall stalks and feathery plumes add a touch of elegance to any setting, be it a formal landscape or a more casual meadow setting.

Every gardener should consider growing Switchgrass because it’s not only easy to care for, but it also provides year-round interest.

5. Reed Grass

Field of Reed GrassField of Reed Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil, drought-tolerant
Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

One of the most popular ornamental grasses, Reed Grass, is a versatile plant that brings texture and movement to the landscape.

It is a clump-forming perennial that produces bright green leaves in clumps and tall, feathery plumes in late summer, which transform into stunning seed heads by early spring.

What makes Reed Grass special is its resilience. It is drought-resistant, low-maintenance, and deer-resistant, making it perfect for gardeners who need a sturdy, yet beautiful plant. I

ts tall stalks and seed heads provide winter interest, standing tall even in the harshest of conditions.

It can survive in dry conditions, making it a great choice for a meadow or xeriscape. Its green leaves provide a lush texture in the summer, while its plumes add interest in the fall and winter.

Plus, it’s one of the native grasses, which means it’s beneficial for local wildlife.

6. Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass on the groundBlue Oat Grass on the ground

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4-9

Blue Oat Grass is a popular choice among the ornamental grass varieties due to its unique texture and low-maintenance care requirements. Its bright green leaves form dense clumps, providing a vibrant contrast in any landscape.

What makes Blue Oat Grass special is its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is drought-resistant, making it a suitable choice for areas with less rainfall. Plus, it is deer-resistant, which is a boon for those who struggle with wildlife nibbling on their plants.

It’s a clump-forming grass, which means it won’t spread and take over your garden. The plumes of seed heads that appear in early spring add an additional texture and interest, making this grass a standout in any meadow or garden.

7. Hakone Grass

Hakone Grass in garden potsHakone Grass in garden pots

Growing Conditions: Part shade to full sun, well-drained soil
Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide
USDA Zones: 5 to 9

Hakone Grass, also known as Japanese Forest Grass, is one of the most popular ornamental grasses in home gardening. It thrives in part shade to full sun and prefers well-drained soil, making it a flexible choice for various landscape designs.

What makes Hakone Grass special is its texture and color. Its bright green leaves form graceful, clump-forming mounds that sway gently with the breeze, adding movement and texture to your garden.

In early spring, the grass produces delicate seed heads that rise above the foliage, adding an extra layer of interest.

8. Purple Millet

Purple Millet grass in the gardenPurple Millet grass in the garden

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide
USDA Zones: 7 to 11

Purple Millet, a member of the most popular ornamental grasses, is a low-maintenance, clump-forming plant that thrives in a variety of conditions and adds a rich, vibrant texture to any landscape.

Its deep purple stalks and bright green leaves are a striking contrast against the traditional green palette of a garden or meadow.

What makes Purple Millet special is its unique color and the tall, fluffy plumes that emerge in early spring. These plumes mature into seed heads by late winter, providing year-round interest. This ornamental grass is also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a practical choice for many gardens.

Any gardener should consider growing Purple Millet due to its striking visual impact and resilience. It’s an excellent choice for adding depth and contrast to a garden, and it’s also very adaptable, thriving in both clay and well-drained soils.

Despite its exotic appearance, it’s as hardy as native grasses and can handle full sun to light shade, making it a versatile addition to any garden.

9. Prairie Cordgrass

Prairie Cordgrass in the garden with green leavesPrairie Cordgrass in the garden with green leaves

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil, and moderate moisture
Size: 4-6 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 3-9

Prairie Cordgrass is a robust, clump-forming native grass that thrives in a myriad of conditions. Its bright green leaves add a splash of color to any landscape, while its towering stalks and distinctive seed heads lend an appealing texture to the garden.

What sets Prairie Cordgrass apart from other ornamental grass varieties is its exceptional durability.

It is drought-resistant, making it a perfect choice for gardeners in areas prone to dry spells. It’s also deer-resistant, a trait that is sure to be appreciated in rural or semi-rural settings where deer can be a garden menace.

Any gardener should consider growing Prairie Cordgrass for its low-maintenance and drought-tolerant characteristics. It’s an ideal choice for creating a meadow-like atmosphere in full sun to light shade conditions.

10. Fiber Optic Grass

Green leaves of Fiber Optic GrassGreen leaves of Fiber Optic Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil, regular moisture
Size: 10-20 inches tall, 12-24 inches wide
USDA Zones: 7-10

Fiber Optic Grass is an intriguing variety of ornamental grass that adds a unique texture to any landscape. Its bright green leaves are thin and wiry, resembling strands of fiber optic cables, hence the name.

This low-maintenance grass is clump-forming, growing in dense clumps that sway gently with the breeze, creating a dynamic element in your garden.

What makes Fiber Optic Grass special are its distinctive seed heads. They appear in early spring and persist through late winter, resembling delicate white plumes that glow when backlit by the sun.

These plumes add an extra layer of texture and interest to the landscape, resembling a miniature meadow.

11. Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass in the landscapeMaiden Grass in the landscape

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 4-6 feet tall, 3-5 feet wide
USDA Zones: 5-9

Maiden Grass, one of the most popular ornamental grasses, is a low-maintenance, clump-forming plant that adds texture and interest to any landscape.

Its bright green leaves grow in clumps and turn golden-brown in late winter, providing year-round visual appeal.

What makes Maiden Grass special is its spectacular plumes. These seed heads bloom in early spring, producing a beautiful display of feathery plumes that stand tall above the foliage.

The plumes and the tall stalks of this ornamental grass variety create a meadow-like atmosphere in any garden.

12. Purple Fountain Grass

Selective focus of Purple Fountain Grass in the landscapeSelective focus of Purple Fountain Grass in the landscape

Growing Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide
USDA Zones: 9 to 11

Purple Fountain Grass adds an eye-catching and dramatic element to any landscape.

This low-maintenance, clump-forming grass features arching, burgundy-red foliage and rose-red flower plumes that provide texture and color throughout the growing season.

What makes Purple Fountain Grass special is its strikingly beautiful, purple or burgundy-colored foliage and its elegant, feathery plumes. These plumes emerge in early spring and persist, becoming a lovely golden color in late winter.

It’s perfect for creating a meadow-like setting or for adding height and movement to a border. Its seed heads can also attract birds, adding life to your garden.

Despite its tropical look, this grass is surprisingly hardy and can withstand harsh conditions.

13. Ravenna Grass

Ravenna Grass in the fieldRavenna Grass in the field

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 9-12 feet
USDA Zones: 5-9

Ravenna Grass, also known as plume grass, is a striking, low-maintenance ornamental grass that is a popular choice for many gardeners. Its tall, clump-forming nature and bright green leaves add texture and depth to any landscape.

What makes Ravenna Grass special are its large, feathery plumes that bloom in late summer. These plumes, along with the tall stalks and seed heads, remain attractive through late winter, providing year-round interest.

This ornamental grass is not only drought-resistant but also deer-resistant, making it a practical choice for various climates and landscapes.

Its ability to thrive in full sun to part shade and its preference for well-drained soil make it versatile in placement.

14. Northern Sea Oats

Leaves of Northern Sea OatsLeaves of Northern Sea Oats

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 2 to 5 feet tall, 1.5 to 2.5 feet wide
USDA Zones: 5 to 9

Northern Sea Oats is a clump-forming type of ornamental grass that is native to North America. Its bright green leaves and unique seed heads add texture and interest to any landscape.

What makes Northern Sea Oats special is its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, from full sun to light shade, and even in clay soil. It’s also drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a low-maintenance choice for busy gardeners.

In late winter to early spring, its green leaves turn to a beautiful bronze color, and it produces seed heads that look like oat plumes. These seed heads provide a lovely visual contrast in a snow-covered meadow.

15. Purple Moor Grass

Purple Moor Grass in a fieldPurple Moor Grass in a field

Growing Conditions: Full sun to light shade, well-drained soil
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall, 1.5 to 2 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Purple Moor Grass, a clump-forming ornamental grass, is a popular choice in many landscapes due to its low-maintenance nature and aesthetic appeal.

Its bright green leaves, which form dense clumps, and its tall, slender stalks that bear purplish seed heads, provide texture and depth to any garden setting.

What makes this ornamental grass special is its year-round interest. In early spring, the grass begins to grow, displaying a bright green color.

By late summer, it blooms with purplish plumes that transition into a golden hue in the fall. The seed heads persist into late winter, providing visual interest even in the colder months.

16. Tufted Hair Grass

Selective focus of Tufted Hair GrassSelective focus of Tufted Hair Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 1 to 3 feet tall
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Tufted Hair Grass, a native grass, is a versatile addition to any landscape. Its bright green leaves and clump-forming growth add texture and depth to the garden.

What makes it special are its delicate plumes and seed heads that bloom in late winter to early spring, providing visual interest even in the colder months.

Tufted Hair Grass is a low-maintenance, drought-resistant variety, making it an excellent choice for those looking to create a meadow-like aesthetic without the need for constant care.

It thrives in full sun but can tolerate part shade, and prefers well-drained soil, but can also handle clay soils.

17. Dwarf Pampas Grass

Selective focus of Dwarf Pampas GrassSelective focus of Dwarf Pampas Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun in well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 6 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide
USDA Zones: 7-11

Dwarf Pampas Grass is a popular choice among the ornamental grass varieties for its compact size and striking appearance. This low-maintenance, clump-forming grass is a gem in any landscape, bringing texture and a unique aesthetic to your garden.

What makes Dwarf Pampas Grass special is its plumes. In late summer, it produces gorgeous white plumes that rise above its bright green leaves, creating a stunning contrast. These plumes persist into late winter, providing interest even in the colder months.

Any gardener should consider growing Dwarf Pampas Grass for several reasons. It’s not only drought-tolerant and deer-resistant but also thrives in a variety of soil conditions, including clay.

It can grow in full sun to part shade, and its drought-resistant nature makes it an excellent choice for areas with low moisture.

With its impressive plumes and green leaves, it’s one of the most popular ornamental grasses that can transform your garden into a beautiful meadow.

18. Liriope

Liriope green leaves with violet flowersLiriope green leaves with violet flowers

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide
USDA Zones: 5 to 10

Liriope, also known as monkey grass, is a versatile and low-maintenance choice among the most popular ornamental grasses. Its bright green leaves add texture and contrast to any landscape, while its clump-forming habit makes it an effective ground cover or border plant.

What makes Liriope special is its adaptability. It can thrive in full sun to light shade, and in clay to well-drained soil. In late summer, it produces lovely purple or white bloom stalks, followed by black berries in fall.

Every gardener should consider growing Liriope for its drought-tolerant and deer-resistant characteristics. It’s a hardy grass that retains its green leaves even in late winter, and it’s also drought-resistant, requiring minimal moisture once established.

Plus, it’s a native grass, making it an eco-friendly choice for your garden or meadow. Its seed heads and plumes add interest to the garden even in early spring.

19. Big Bluestem

Field of Big BluestemField of Big Bluestem

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 4 to 8 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Big Bluestem is a native grass that’s often used as an ornamental grass in the landscape due to its impressive size and appealing texture.

This grass brings a unique touch to any garden with its tall, clump-forming stalks and bright green leaves that turn a striking copper color in the fall.

What makes Big Bluestem special is its adaptability and low-maintenance nature. It’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, making it a great choice for gardeners in areas with challenging conditions.

Plus, it’s a clump-forming grass, growing in tight clumps rather than spreading invasively.

20. Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass bright green leaves with airy seed headsMexican Feather Grass bright green leaves with airy seed heads

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 1.5 to 2 feet tall and wide
USDA Zones: 6 to 10

Mexican Feather Grass, one of the most popular ornamental grasses, is a clump-forming, drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plant native to North America.

Its bright green leaves and airy seed heads bring a unique texture to any landscape, making it a standout in many garden settings.

What makes Mexican Feather Grass special is its ability to thrive in various conditions, including drought and clay soils. It’s also deer-resistant, which is a significant advantage for those in deer-prone areas.

The grass produces beautiful, light plumes in early spring, transitioning into golden seed heads by late winter, offering year-round visual interest.

21. Indian Grass

Selective focus of Indian GrassSelective focus of Indian Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 5 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Indian Grass is a native grasses species that is known for its bright green leaves and stunning golden plumes. It is one of the most popular ornamental grasses due to its striking texture and ability to enhance any landscape.

What makes Indian Grass special is its resilience and adaptability. It’s a low-maintenance, clump-forming grass that thrives in a variety of soil conditions, including clay.

Its tall stalks, topped with feathery seed heads, bloom in late summer and persist into winter, providing a visual interest in the garden throughout the seasons.

22. Pink Muhly Grass

Selective focus of Pink Muhly GrassSelective focus of Pink Muhly Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide
USDA Zones: 6 to 9

Pink Muhly Grass is a stunning variety of ornamental grass that adds a unique texture to any landscape. This clump-forming plant is known for its bright green leaves that turn a beautiful bronze in the fall.

What makes the Pink Muhly Grass special are its plumes. In late summer to early fall, the grass produces spectacular pink plumes that look like a pink cloud or cotton candy.

These plumes last until late winter and can be left on the plant to provide winter interest.

23. Canada Wild Rye

Macro of Canada Wild RyeMacro of Canada Wild Rye

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil.
Size: 2-5 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide.
USDA Zones: 3-9.

Canada Wild Rye is a robust, clump-forming native grass that adds texture and movement to the landscape. Its bright green leaves grow in clumps, creating an appealing contrast with its distinctive, arching seed heads.

What makes Canada Wild Rye special is its adaptability and low-maintenance nature. It’s drought-resistant and deer-resistant, making it an excellent choice for gardens in areas with challenging conditions.

The grass thrives in full sun to part shade and prefers well-drained soil, but it can also tolerate clay soils.

It’s perfect for creating a meadow-like effect in your garden or as a backdrop for other plants. The grass’s plumes bloom in early spring, adding a touch of early color to your garden.

In late winter, the dried stalks and seed heads provide texture and interest.

24. Bottlebrush Grass

Selective focus of Bottlebrush GrassSelective focus of Bottlebrush Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 2 to 5 feet tall
USDA Zones: 3 to 9

Bottlebrush Grass, a native grass, is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant species that adds texture and beauty to any landscape.

This grass is named for its distinctive seed heads, which resemble a bottlebrush in shape and bloom in early spring. The bright green leaves form clumps and provide a lush backdrop for the seed heads.

What makes this grass special is its adaptability. It thrives in a variety of soil conditions, from clay to well-drained soil, and is drought-resistant. It can tolerate both full sun and part shade, making it a versatile choice for any garden.

25. Fox Sedge Grass

Macro on the seedheads of Fox Sedge GrassMacro on the seedheads of Fox Sedge Grass

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade, well-drained soil
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
USDA Zones: 3 to 9

Fox Sedge Grass is a low-maintenance, clump-forming native grass that brings texture and movement to any landscape. Its bright green leaves and seed heads that bloom in early spring add a unique charm to your garden.

What makes Fox Sedge Grass special is its adaptability. It thrives in a variety of soil types, from well-drained clay to moisture-rich loam, and can handle both full sun and light shade.

Its plumes, or seed heads, add an appealing texture to any garden setting, standing tall on sturdy stalks that sway gently in the breeze.

26. Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass in the landscapeFeather Reed Grass in the landscape

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil
Size: 3 to 5 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Feather Reed Grass is a popular variety of ornamental grasses that gardeners love to incorporate into their landscape. Its tall, clump-forming stalks and bright green leaves add texture and visual interest to any garden setting.

What makes Feather Reed Grass special is its plumes that bloom in early spring. These plumes transform into stunning seed heads by late winter, providing year-round interest. It is also one of the most popular ornamental grasses due to its low-maintenance nature and drought-resistant properties.

Any gardener should consider growing Feather Reed Grass. Not only does it thrive in a variety of conditions, including clay and well-drained soil, it also tolerates a range of light conditions from full sun to light shade.

It’s a fantastic choice for creating a meadow-like atmosphere in your garden. Plus, it’s deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, making it a hardy and reliable choice.

 

Other Guides from Planet Natural:

Top Low-Maintenance Lawn Alternatives for Your Backyard

A Dozen Lawn-Free Landscaping Designs to Enchant Your Yard





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