grasses for north side

treeskate(6a Hartford CT)May 9, 2006

We relandscaped my front yard which faces directly north. We removed the shrubs that were in front of the windows and put a 4 ft. wide gravel bed, then large stepping stones for the mailman who always cuts across the lawn neighbor to neighbor (no sidewalks this side of the street.) Then the new landscape begins.

So on the gravel bed I have three 21 inch poly round planting tubs that I want to put in some ornamental grasses. It will get late afternoon sun, which in the summer can be quite intense. The rest of the time the 2 story house will shade the gravel area. The bottom half of the house is red brick, black shutters - the top is white clapboard, black shutters.

I would like something that would grow about three feet high with smaller grass/s in front/ or flopping in front of the taller grass.

Location is 6a Hartford CT.

Any suggestions or thoughts???

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For the taller grass, Chasmanthium latifolium. For smaller grasses, look at Luzula varieties, Sesleria varieties and Hakonechloa varieties.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 6:12PM
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I agree with donn's recommendations. For smaller varieties, you might also want to look at Mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicum. It's not really a grass, but looks like one and thrives in the shade. Has deep green color and weeping form. Also, there are many varieties of Carex spp. that thrive in the shade. I particularly like Bowle's golden sedge, C. elata.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 12:27PM
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treeskate(6a Hartford CT)

So I gather that you both consider this a shade area and are not concerned about the summer late afternoon high heat??

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 4:06PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

Chasmanthium latifolium will be fine in the afternoon sun. For 'tallish' you might also try Calamagrostis brachytricha which will also take a certain amount of shade &/or sun.
On the shorter side of things, you're right, it might be a bit hot for the Hakonechloa ~ you could always try a bit and see how it works out. You just never know with these things. What will work in one garden won't work in another. There are oh, so many variables. An alternative that will work and give you the same colour effect is the variegated foxtail grass ~ Alopecuroides pratensis 'Variegatus'
Any Sesleria spp. will be fine in sun & part shade as will the old stand-by, Phalaris arundinacea aka, Ribbon Grass. For those tough spots it is hard to beat! I have some as a disguise in front of my air-conditioner. Soil is dry, it gets minimal sun & always looks nice and fresh. Some of the carex spp. might also work for you. Carex muskingumensis is a nice medium height and Carex glauca will give you a nice blue-grey look, etc, etc. Actually, lots of choices ~ all you have to do is make up your mind! :o)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 6:38PM
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treeskate(6a Hartford CT)

Thanks a million!!!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 8:25PM
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My Chasmanthium latifolium only gets 2-3 hours of sun, but its in the heat of afternoon and it has thrived. It seems to be one of those plants that can adapt to widely varying light conditions. Mondo grass can take some sun as well, as long has it has plenty of moisture, mulch, etc. Same is true for many Carex varieties. Hakone grass does not like strong sun, however, and might burn with a few hours of hot afternoon sun.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 8:03AM
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