Could you please me choose the right grass?

hopefulnoviceSeptember 10, 2009


I am so glad to have found this forum. We have a relatively narrow (2-3 feet) border around our screened porch that is currently planted with Lariope. I know it is supposed to be deer resistant, but nobody told our deer - they love it and chomp away. I want to replace it with some beautiful, clumping, ornamental grasses. They can't grow more than 36-40inches tall, and I'd like them to look nice/interesting for at least 10 months of the year. Any recommendations?

Thank you for any help and advice!

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First, we need to know what hardiness zone you are in.

Next, we need to know the sun exposure of the border in question.

Finally, unless you are in a very tropical zone, there aren't many ornamental grasses which "look nice/interesting" for 10 months of the year. There are even fewer which will grow to 36-40" in height, and exist in a 2-3' wide border.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 6:56PM
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Ah. Fair enough! We're in Maryland, zone 6/7. The border gets lots of morning sun, then is in the shade in the afternoon.

As for height, they can be shorter than 3 feet, but not much higher. I was thinking a single row of some nice clumping grass, like Fountaingrass, but what do I know?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Maybe Pennisetum Hameln? Would get around 2' tall and blooms earlier than other pennisetums.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 10:25PM
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'Hameln' is a lovely choice. I grow a few of them, and they are very elegant little plants. However, depending upon the severity of your winter, it can get a bit tatty, and while it usually doesn't need to be cut back early, it may not qualify as interesting after being beaten down by a wet winter snowstorm.

At best, any warm season grass will have to be cut back to the ground in late-winter to early-spring, and although I find freshly sprouting grasses interesting, they do not begin to re-fill their spaces for quite a few months.

You might take a look at some of the Carex varieties. I've just started to experiment with more of them in the past couple of years, and I'm in a slightly warmer zone, but I find they have a good deal longer period of interest than grasses. Some of them are very close to evergreen for me, and require only a light brushing out in the spring.

One of my favorites is Carex elata 'Bowles Golden.' Its color will startle you in the afternoon shade, and it makes a wonderful hedge plant. Another beauty is Carex oshimensis 'Evergold.' It's smaller than 'Bowles Golden' but just as beautiful. This one looks especially nice when you scatter some good looking rocks in its bed and let it grow around and over them.

Others to consider:

Carex glauca 'Blue Zinger'
Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance'
Carex grayii (for its unusual seed pods)
Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme' or, for a smaller one, 'Little Midge'

Finally, while it isn't a grass, Acorus gramineus 'Oborozuki' deserves a look. It is similar in habit to Liriope, but far better looking in my opinion. It wants a fairly moist environment, but if you can provide ample irrigation, it's a stand-out.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 7:06AM
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I'd second the Carex - most varieties should be evergreen or very nearly so and many prefer a slightly shaded condition. C. oshimensis 'Evergold' or C. morrowii 'Aureovariegata' are very nice clumpers. I really like 'Ice Dance' - a much more distinct and striking variegation but its a spreader and under the right conditions can become a bit of a nuisance.

Can't speak to deer resistance on these.......I have just recently moved to a deer-prone neighborhood and have yet to test them out personally. However, it's been my experience that deer will sample just about any type of plant. Apparently they do not read the books listing resistant plants!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 9:50AM
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Thank you all for your recommendations!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 3:58PM
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