Return to the Ornamental Grasses Forum | Post a Follow-Up

what grasses look good together?

Posted by philosopher Zone 5 WI (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 25, 06 at 22:07

Hi all--

I have a 20 foot privacy fence that runs parallel to our driveway. I'd like to plant some grasses in a long row in the space between the privacy fence and the driveway. Since my front garden is sort of a hodgepodge of groundcovers and low-growing perennials, I'd like to keep with that informal look and do a mix of grasses, rather than a row of a single variety. But...I don't want it to look too much "seat-of-the-pants" casual; I'd like it to have some logic behind my design.

My question for you all is: What grasses look particularly good together? OR--is this just a plain old bad idea--i.e., stick with a single variety? (I have been known to spend beaucoup $$$ on plants, only to rip them out and give them to my sister & friends, so I know I have the potential to have some stunningly bad ideas.)

I'm in Wisconsin, so I'd like to stick with plants that are in zone 4-5 range at best.

Thanks for any ideas!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: what grasses look good together?

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 26, 06 at 6:28

How deep is the space between the fence and driveway?

RE: what grasses look good together?

About two feet. Pretty narrow. Which is why I am trying to include a variety; I don't want the visual impression of "soliders standing at attention."

RE: what grasses look good together?

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 26, 06 at 11:25

Well, you'll be limited in your choices. Virtually any taller grass, like over 2' tall, will overhang the driveway by a good deal if it is properly stood off the fence. If you plant a grass that matures to 2' in diameter, it must be at least 1' off the fence in order to mature properly. Most ornamental grasses are wider at the top than at the bottom, and a plant with a 1' diameter crown at the base could easily be 3-4' in diameter at the top. It's the diameter at the top, in bloom, that must be accounted for in both stand-off from the fence and overhang of the driveway. Even if you don't mind the grass's foliage and plumes overhanging the driveway, the strip is so narrow you'll have trouble properly installing any large grasses.

That said, there are lots of small clumping grasses which will fit the space. Look at the smaller cultivars of Festuca, Sesleria, hardy varieties of Carex, like C. plantaginea, Koeleria varieties, Helichtotrichon sempervirens and Eragrostis spectabilis.

For more vertical interest, maybe consider additional plantings in pots, mounted to the fence above the grasses.

RE: what grasses look good together?

I love grasses planted in a row! Several of a single variety look especially good.
You might try planting groups of four or five of the same grass. Then you could change up the height as you get closer to the house. Even just three different grasses would give you a less formal look.
Donn's suggestions are all good. I'm sure you could get away with some taller grasses & I would definitely go with grasses that give you that soft flowing look ~ no stiff soldiers that way.
Grasses that I have used in a similar way.
Any of the Fountain grasses (Pennisetum spp.)
Panicums ~ I have P. virgatum 'Rehbraun' lining a narrow path and it looks great.
Chasmanthium latifolium
Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' & Calamagrostis brachytricha
You might even get away with a single Miscanthus cultivar at the top. Look for one that has a stiffer more upright form like Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' This you might have to divide every couple of years to keep it in bounds.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Ornamental Grasses Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here