Vail Daily column: Plant grasses in your garden | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Plant grasses in your garden

Stacy Garber
Landscape Logic

Korean feather grass is a soft-textured, clump-forming grass that can be a nice addition to your garden.

While ornamental grasses showed up as an unproven landscape trend, they have settled in as a mainstay within Colorado's landscape. Many of these grasses offer what Colorado gardeners crave by being gardener-friendly plants that require little water and bring their own subtle and often shimmery character to our gardens.

Ornamental grasses typically don't give that wow-factor of a big pop of color, but they do offer other desirable qualities, such as structure, when used as a backdrop to other plants. Grasses add a strong vertical element and movement throughout most seasons. They will also fill up a fair amount of space in varying sun and shade exposures and will not require much water in return.

Many of these grasses are habitat friendly by providing pollen for pollinators and seeds for birds. Some of them are deer resistant, which adds to their desirability in locations where deer are prevalent.

TWO GRASSES FOR ZONE 4

Grasses add a strong vertical element and movement throughout most seasons. They will also fill up a fair amount of space in varying sun and shade exposures and will not require much water in return.

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In recent years, Plant Select — Colorado's go-to resource for plants suited to our region — has introduced and endorsed a number of grasses. Most are suitable for zones 5 and higher, and two are suitable for zone 4. If you don't yet have grasses in your yard, consider adding these two selections. Both are suitable to zone 4.

Blonde Ambition blue grama grass is a native grass with showy seed heads and fine texture. It will grow 28 to 32 inches high and wide. It adapts to sun and partial shade and will thrive in varying soil conditions. Water needs are moderate to xeric. It does reseed, but the seedlings are not true, so they should be pulled.

Korean feather grass is a soft-textured, clump-forming grass that tolerates shade. It has feathery summer flowers and will grow in a variety of sites and conditions. It grows 34 to 40 inches high and 12 to 16 inches wide. The plant's water needs are moderate, and it is deer resistant. Mulching around it with large bark will help deter the seeds that fall from developing into unwanted seedlings.

Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

Planting tips

• Grasses don’t need to be separated into a designated “grass garden.” Place grasses among other perennials where they can be a border, a backdrop or a vertical element among other plants. Create a grouping of three to five plants as you might with other perennials.

• Avoid planting grasses very late in the growing season, as they tend not to do well with late-season planting. They need time to get well established before winter sets in.