Help selecting a clumping grass

hotpeppernutNovember 30, 2007

This year I planted my first ornamental grass, some Porcupine M. I really love the look of ornamental grasses, but am a bit lost on what would work in my situation.

The walkway to my front door is basically a driveway, leading to a short rounded concrete walkway that makes a slow 90 degree left turn towards the steps leading to the front door. It is perhaps 20' long at the outer side which faces the street. I would like to do a grass planting as a border which I don't want to get too high, but want the grass to be substantial enough to discourage people from walking over the lawn and stepping over the planned grass planting.

So, I am looking for a clumping grass that gets no taller than 2 feet or wider than 3 feet. It will serve as a border to the walkway, and I will plant some annuals in front of the grass for additional interest and color.

What would be a good selection for this, keeping in mind I like flowering grasses? This area gets full sun until mid afternoon. If the fronds (if that is what the flowering stems are called) get higher than 2 feet, that's fine, even preferred. The objective is to create a border that is functional, in stopping pedestrian traffic, but also of course decorative as well. I would prefer a variety that is not too aggresive in terms of spreading.

I am a real novice with grasses, so any help or advice would be very much appreciated. I find it difficult even with all the info on the net to make a decision I have any confidence in by myself. Please help! And thank you in advance!

John W

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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

The ideal grass for your situation might be Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
Foliage is short, flowers are very upright (ie, won't lean into your walkway)
Flowers in June & flowers dry off & look good right into March. Grass is evergreen in your zone so would look good all year round.

There are a couple of variegated cultivars if you would prefer that - look for 'Avalanche' or 'Overdam'

Here is a link that might be useful: for pictures & information check out bluestem nursery

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 3:50PM
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John ~ You might like Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' or dwarf fountain grass. It slowly spreads to a substantial clump.

I found a link for you that has pictures of it with perennials along a pathway, so that you can see how it might work for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 5:09PM
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Thank you both achnatherum and praireigirlz!

A combination of a couple Overdams near the steps, and a border of the Hameln continuing down to the driveway I think will work very well here. I was a bit lost, but now I am found! LOL... honestly, thanks for the suggestions.

I think the K Foersters are bit too tall for this spot, but I think I have another spot for a few of them. I do like the look of this grass, and I prefer grasses that have a chance of holding up under some snow over the winter.

Lining that walkway with the Hamelns, with some annuals in a bed to widen the planting area should deter the postman (and others) from making paths through my lawn! I now envision about 5 Hamelns along the walkway, leading to two Overdams, the last of which would be planted alongside the first step of the porch off the railing, on a part of the garden bed that then runs under a picture window. That should (I hope) flow nicely into that garden bed which has the zebra grass along with other plantings.

Thank you so much for the suggestions!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:39AM
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