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Any suggestions???............

Posted by flybynyte Z4 NE-SD (My Page) on
Thu, May 4, 06 at 19:43

Hi everyone!

Hope the spring has been treating you well. Right now, this area is battling cold, cloudy, windy, wet weather. I don't think it got above 46 today.

Well, on to my question. I have an area where you go out the back door, hang a right, and follow the sidewalk out to the street. I am trying to come up with some ideas to line the pathway with a few grasses (btw, it is approximately 30 ft to the street). I was thinking of planting a tall, medium, and short grass (with the tallest being closest to the house---but, not necessarily real close to the house). I will be digging out an area along the sidewalk, oh, about 3-4 foot wide. I do have a few grasses that are already in another area of the yard (shenendoah, Karl Foerster, panicum 'Northwind', Northern Sea Oats). I could possibly work with one, or a mix of those, or, try some new ones.

Would be interested to read any suggestions anyone may have on what type of grasses may work the best along the sidewalk. Oh, the area gets just about, if not, full sun.

BTW, I live in zone 4.

I hope I have explained my situation well enough.

Thanks for your help----it is greatly appreciated!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Any suggestions???............


For a short grass you cant beat Blue Fescue. It's a beautiful color & stays in a nice mound. I like Japanese Silver Grass for a tall one.


RE: Any suggestions???............

Thanks for the suggestion, tjsangel!
I do have a question, though. Wouldn't a miscanthus (Japanese silver grass) grow too wide for the area I plan to work on? I don't think I want something that would grow so big as to hang over onto the sidewalk.

RE: Any suggestions???............

Yes, the Miscanthus would impose uncomfortably on sidewalk and those using it. (I once planted a shorter Misc. 'Adagio' between house and sidewalk, and its "overflowing" presence, although beautiful, was awkward.) Much better for height in a situation as yours is C. 'Karl Foerster' or Panicums. Remember to plant the taller grasses at least 2' from the house. Make the bed 4' deep, if possible.

Some grasses of medium and shorter heights for along a walkway are Deschampsia cespitosa (any of them) or Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens). Both are hardy in zone 4 and make great companions, especially Karl Foerster and Deschamsia or Panicum and Blue Oat Grass. All combine well with each other or with selected late-summer perennials interplanted among them (should you go that route). Your new planting will inspire and impress provided that you don't plant in a soldierly line, as many tend to do along walkways. (There is nothing more unnatural, uninspired and downright boring than a parade-dress line-up of Blue Fescue lining a walkway.) Echo nature.

A site for horticultural info and visual reference is linked below. (Note: the zone info at Bluestem is from arborday; subtract 1 for USDA zone.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Bluestem

RE: Any suggestions???............

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, May 5, 06 at 8:46

I may not understand completely, but it seems it will be difficult to get a tall, a medium and a small grass into a 3-4' wide bed. Both the tall and medium would have to be extremely erect in form.

RE: Any suggestions???............

Hi, Donn. I took fly's description to mean that (s)he just wants to combine different heights along the length of the walkway. Of course, you're right about the depth. (Fly: please note Donn's comments.)

RE: Any suggestions???............

One of my favorites grasses that is hardy in your area is Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis. It grows about 1-2' tall with very fine narrow leaves, with a weeping habit. Turns orange in fall.

Blue fescue is another favorite. River oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, is a nice taller grass that won't get too wide as it grows upright. Looks almost like bamboo, but can reseed heavily.

RE: Any suggestions???............

Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Yeah, I think I am better off going medium to small in height----skip the "tall".

Will take notes on advice!

Thanks again, for sharing your time!

(Btw, I'm a "he") ;)

RE: Any suggestions???............

  • Posted by jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Mon, May 8, 06 at 17:06

As a garden designer one item that is paramount w/ most designers is to have curves in any pathways.

Taking that your sidewalk is a straight shot, having an OG hang gingerly over the walk creates that curve. Just don't plant too close to the walk or let the grass take over your plan or design.

Fescue with other grasses (grasses such as Miscanthus) can get lost in the bed or design. Most Fescues are rather short and the Miscanthus and other grasses such as Pennisetum and Panicums are taller and more eye grabbing.

Fescues at 8-12" in ht will not grab your attention when other hts of 3-5 or even 6 are placed next to, in front of or behind the shorter grass.

Fescue has it places but in your idea for your walk you need to stay away from one or the other. I don't see both as a workable concept. That's just me.


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