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Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Posted by excelent3 4b (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 14, 05 at 18:55

I own recreational land on the Wisconsin River, which is on the flood plain, similar to many of the large islands in the river itself down here. I need some suggestions. The soil is almost pure sand, with some sediment type top soil, enough to support grass to mow. I am trying to create a 100' screen on a lot line, and would like it to lend itself to the rest of the land. I need it to be as tall as possible, non-invasive, deer and flood resistant. The river usually floods for a week or two in early to mid April. Sometimes up to 3-4 weeks in bad years, and sometimes not at all, as in this year. The deer can be a real problem. I would also appreciate any other recommendations as far as what I could us as a screen to block the view of an unsightly neighbor, but would like it to be a year round type screen, so that would rule out deciduous. The screen really needs to be controllable as the plantings would be right on a property line, and not to wide, preferable no more than 5-6' wide. I do have water available (electric sand point well) to help establish the plants. Oh yes, it is a full sun setting, things can really get baked, even though their is plenty of water just below the surface.

I would like to do the plantings in the spring.

Thanks in advance for your input!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by pezhead z8 Portland OR (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 15, 05 at 22:59

Let's see -- you're in Zone 4 and want an ornamental grass that will tolerate deer, flood, drought, sandy soil, and you want it to be tall, controllable and evergreen.

You're high.

Plant something native that will come up thick enough to provide a winter screen despite being deciduous. Build a fence. If anyone in this forum can come up with a suitable grass for this use I'll eat my own shoes.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Deadhead-

I am sure one of the many clump forming varieties will be suitable, I just have not figured out which, although I am leaning towards some type of miscanthus or moor grass....I hope you like limburger cheese....


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 05 at 9:40

If I read it right, he wants a grass screen in one location, and an evergreen screen in another location.

There are grasses which will work, for a good part of the year. Hardy Miscanthus, Erianthus, Arundo, etc.. Check with Bluestem for cold hardy grasses.

There are numerous evergreen hedge/screen plants available for the other screen. Check with some of the other forums, like Conifers, for ideas.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

I need to clarify... this may seem to be a tall order...however, many of the miscanthuses I have researched are deer resistant, non-evasive, and drought tolerant. The single screen I wish to establish, is on a lot line, and I don't want to deal with invasive headaches I read about here.

My main concern is the soil quality, which is almost pure sand underneath a minimal depth topsoil... and the zone I live in. Thanks for all your input...even Pezhead, one thousand pardons for the confusion.

One that I am considering is Miscanthus sinensis 'Kaskade'.....Would that have a chance a growing in full sun, dry conditions in the summer?


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 05 at 11:39

The books say 'Kaskade' is hardy to zone 5, but that may be variable.

Most Miscanthus will grow in the crappiest soil you can imagine, and once established, are very drought tolerant. I have M.s. 'New Hybrids' growing beautifully, from seed, in extremely sandy soil, with occasional saltwater flooding.

Check Bluestem, linked below. He specializes in cold climate ornamental grasses, and his webiste is a fount of information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bluestem


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Thuja USDA z4 WI, US (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 05 at 12:58

Ya, I kinda thought Miscanthus too except that it's not evergreen & not sure how much flooding it can take. There are some ornamental grasses at the Turfgrass Facility on Hwy M near Verona. There is a nice big Miscanthus 'Giganteus' there. Also Flower Factory in Stoughton area has a lot of OG's on display and for sale.

The native Rivercane bamboo, Arundinaria gigantea ssp. Tecta, can take flooding & would be evergreen for most the winter if not all. You would eventually need to root prune it or put a root barrier on the lot line. Annual root pruning would be quick & easy in sandy soil. I think deer aren't supposed to like it but will eat anything if hungry enough.

Here is a link that might be useful: O.J. Noer Turfgrass Facility


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by pezhead z8 Portland OR (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 05 at 14:06

As much a fan of OG as i am, I just don't see the point of stretching to make OG work for this situation. With drought/flooding, evergreen requirement, deer resistance, and non-invasive characater all wrapped into Zone 4 it seems a long shot for OG. Again, why not a thicket of willow or dogwood or some such twiggy native?


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Whatever you do, many ornamental grasses will work, with exceptions to the rule. I have customers that work Molina cultivars as well as Panicums in their designs for naturalistic landscapes, in zones 4 on the way up. Even Deschampsia "Schottland" for example, can be evergreen in the right conditions. And I have a lot of concern for anyone putting in Arundo in their plot. Arundo and its cultivars should be only a farmed crop for its fiber and not to be put into a wetland, salt marsh, landscape, naturalistic setting, or attempt to plant a wildlife refuge. I agree in planting natives such as shrubbery, grasses, and small trees to give the landscape meaning, correct introduction, and limiting invasive and improper plantings.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Again, I need to clarify, I did not mean to give the impression that it has to be "evergreen" year round, just something that will create a screen most of time, something that will stay verticle over the winter months, until I cut it down in early spring, to allow it to optimally grow again. Based on what I have read here, I may try several plantings on an experimental basis and see how they thrive, many of the grasses suggested in this thread have potential. Most of the miscanthuses seem match up well with my needs, I just hope I can get the height I need to create the screen effect I am after, which would be minimally 6', ideally 8-10'.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

AgastacheMan, could you please clarify what you mean by " Even Deschampsia "Schottland" for example, can be evergreen in the right conditions"........


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Thuja USDA z4 WI, US (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 16, 05 at 19:23

Agastache-- Arundinaria is not the same as Arundo. They're both in the grass family but that's about all they have in common. Native canebrake has been nearly wiped out by farming and urban development.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Thuja, if you read Donn's post, he gives the name Arundo...to me, he is saying use Arundo. Open your eyes, read carefully, and maybe you don't need to say anything at all... If a person says Arundo, and does not specify, then it is what he/she means. Especially in the world of Botany and Horticulture, you have to be specific, otherwise, you are in the wrong field or hobby.......Kind of like saying rust of roses is the same rust that occurs on both apples and cedars. Same point, same principle, same burn.........have a nice day.....


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 17, 05 at 7:50

".. if you read Donn's post, he gives the name Arundo...to me, he is saying use Arundo."

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I simply listed some families of grass that could work in the specified situation. Unlike you, A-man, I don't feel the need to politicize the information with personal opinions like "Arundo and its cultivars should be only a farmed crop for its fiber and not to be put into a wetland, salt marsh, landscape, naturalistic setting, or attempt to plant a wildlife refuge."

Who made you the hall monitor of gardening?


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Donn, to answer your question, it is not hall monitoring at all, just simply posting selective opinions that give arise to correct introduction of plant material to a site. This whole forum is about opinion, experience, education, and application to which all is subject to scrutiny, criticism, discussion, and evaluation. If you don't take that into consideration whenever you post your opinion, expereience and what not, then you shouldn't post. It is as simple as that. Thank you and good day....


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 17, 05 at 16:52

A-man, your incorrect interpretation of my simple listing of grasses which could work in the situation described is at question here, and that listing is not a matter of opinion, but a clear matter of fact.

Kindly keep your opinions to the subject of ornamental grasses, and not to the meaning of my words.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

We have very sandy soil, and the miscanthus does well here. I notice you like Kaskade, how about the hardier Huron Sunrise? Similar. In fact the whole Huron series might do well for you. Some pictures can be seen on the Walters Gardens website. Polly


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

I think I hit a nerve there Donn... Pretty funny I think, but oh well.....I know I won't ever use Arundo as a slack term to put my two sense in...lol


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Just wanted to say, that we have really sandy soil here too and Miscanthus seems very happy. I've grown, Morning Light, Graziella and Zebrinus all of which have done well in our sandy, sometimes parched soil, but I don't think any of them are hardy in your zone, though. How about Miscanthus sinensis Sarabande? It doesn't provide quite the height you're looking for, but its hardy to zone 4 and it sure is pretty! I'll have to check my book on grasses, if I come up with anything I'll post.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

I've certainly looked at the specs on Sarabande....One thing I have learned here for sure is that Miscanthus will grow in almost anything!


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 5:49

"..my two sense.."

ROFL!


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Donn & AgastacheMan-

Do you guys think you can give it up now? I would appreciate substantive comment here regarding the original thread question, not your personal, ego laden,never ending efforts to out do eachother.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 8:17

"..not your personal, ego laden,never ending efforts to out do eachother."

Lighten up there, excelent3. I gave you substantive comment, and was abused by A-man for it. I don't suffer fools quietly.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 11:02

This is totally awesome !! someone else getting their knees taken out by others who think they can walk on water. No mean or ill intentions towards anyone, just a comment on the muscle flexing taking place.

Common names in the plant world can and will lead to miss interpretation as we all know. At least us intellectual, garden savvy, experienced with dirty fingers and knees people know this.

I just couldn't help but make a comment, a worthless comment but still fun to make.

Jake


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Thuja USDA z4 WI, US (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 11:42

Ya, I think there are a lot of good suggestions here, peppered with colorful commentary too, --all for no extra charge.

The reason for my ad hoc lecture about Arundinaria is that I thought it was being dismissed as a bad choice. I didn't realize Agastache was referring to Don's Arundo suggestion. In any case, I didn't mean to imply that Arundo is a bad idea in Wisconsin. Around here because of our short growing season it is not invasive, but also it wouldn't thrive either, and hence it wouldn't likely achieve the screening effect you want. Even so, people like it because of it's exotic appearance. I planted one in spring 15 years ago and it died the first winter.

Going out on another limb, I'd even suggest Phragmites but it is another aggressive spreader so you'd need a rhizome barrier or annual root pruning. The native one is supposed to be less aggressive. I started some native strain from seed 2 years ago and it is just now starting to get going. Also there is a variegated one that is tamer. The turfgrass research center cited above has one on display.

Miscanthus or some of A-Man's suggestions still seem to me the easiest solution. The bamboo or Phragmites would take at least 3 or 4 years to get the screening you want. Hope it helps!


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

Thuga-

You live locally in Madison area I see, you seem to have a good knowledge of Grasses. Would you mind giving me a call....? I have questions that are looking for answers....Fred 831-0909 anytime


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by pezhead z8 Portland OR (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 20, 05 at 19:48

"all is subject to scrutiny, criticism, discussion and evaluation."

This is a forum for enthusiasts, experts, novices and all in between to come to share questions, answers, opinions and experience. It should be possible to do this without generating tension or personal attack. Agastache Man's comments have crossed the line on numerous threads and in this thread I cite his comment to Thuja: "open your eyes, read carefully and maybe you don't have to say anything at all." While the essence of the statement may be true, its use in this forum constitutes an agressive, arrogant and unnecessary put-down.

Agastache Man, see if you can't share you apparently vast store of experience and knowledge without injecting your similarly apparent scorn for those less holy than yourself. It's bound to be less lonely in the end.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

hmmmmm........let's see... point taken, but denied. I guess freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the ability to criticize to benefit the subject at hand has been definately skinned to nothing. My whole beef with the newbies, amateurs, and the personalized "plant holy men", is that some opinions that urge the wrong practices, the wrong implements, the wrong information are posted here. That is exactly the defined line where people use the wrong information and pay for it in the end. I defiantely work every day in the fields of horticulture, floriculture, and botany to eliminate the wrong information that is expressed by gardeners and amatuers. This bad information in the end does not benefit anyone, except the ones that clean up the mess. The funny thing in this whole wide world of arguement, is there are a lot of people on Gardenweb that give the wrong advice, and get their feelings hurt when someone comes around, like myself and others, that correct the terms. Whether you regard this as an personal attack or something else, that is the right of the individual. And I have the right, like others on here, to strictly burn the wrong ideas, implements, and formulations. It is like battling corn earworms in a field of organically grown corn. As persistant as they are, ever attention to detail must be done to ensure safer practices are measured up to the public outlook. Same direction for me and others, and I can tell you there are many professionals and collectors on here that are more direct than me, and they are battling the same thing. Wrong information and being lazy to post the right information can bring a cost to any application, especially when dealing with nautre, biology, botany, horticulture blah blah and blah blah. It is a never ending cycle, but I will sleep better at night that I will never be lazy and give the wrong information. I know that differs me from others on here, and I know that makes you little pissed Pezzy. You can go on and defending the wrong and getting direct with people like me who kill those bad ideas. Go for it, its your right, but I choose to make sure the newbies get the right information, by the right people.....


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 29, 05 at 19:23

A-man, why don't you get specific with your discussion of what you think were incorrect suggestions in this thread, instead of your rambling and barely coherent tirade?

Is it my suggestion that Arundo might meet the qualifications Fred listed? If it is, then as Thuja points out, it's you who are incorrect. There are varieties of Arundo that will grow just fine in Fred's conditions, with little to no chance of becoming invasive. While they may not reach the maximum heights they achieve in warmer climates, they will certainly reach effective screen height.

"I defiantely work every day in the fields of horticulture, floriculture, and botany to eliminate the wrong information that is expressed by I defiantely work every day in the fields of horticulture, floriculture, and botany to eliminate the wrong information that is expressed by gardeners and amatuers.

I'm not sure if you meant to write definately, or defiantly, but in either case, you have a definate problem with over-expanded head. Do you think that simply because you are a 'professional' your opinions are more valid than those of "gardeners and amatuers[sic]?" I don't. I've got 50+ years experience in gardening, in several different zones. One thing I learned early is how to separate opinion from fact. Most of what I've read from you on this forum, is opinion presented as fact. I don't consider that helpful, particularly when you mix it with insult, as you have done with me, Thuja and Pez, in this thread alone.

In closing, allow me to suggest that you would do the world of ornamental grasses much more good by encouraging beginners, rather than by lording it over them with your massive expertise.


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Arundo Donax

Since I have started this thread, I have explored locations here locally, such as the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, botanical gardens, and a UW-Extension Turf Grass facility that studies various grasses for residential and commercial uses...I have seen some incredible grasses here, reaching heights of 8-10' not including the tops! The Arundo Donax was one of the tallest, along with the Floridus, and the Gigantus...The various Japanese Silver grasses also, seem to thrive, as a matter of fact, the Arundo I have seen often, it is doing quite well here. It does not appeal to me however, looks more like tall hybrid corn to me! My two cents....


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 1, 05 at 15:22

All this crepe about Arundo and no one says anything about using just the word Miscanthus. Which Miscanthus ?? Japanese Silver grass DUH ?? which one ?? Panicum would work too. Yeh right !! which one ??

Why can't everyone be specific in their plant suggestions? Miscanthus covers a lot of grass selections and choices. Stature - vertical, upright arching, arching, Color light green, green, deep green, green w/ yellow banding, vertical striping white on green or green on white, Height 3 feet, 4-5 feet, 6 feet or 10 12 feet . Its all Miscanthus. So plant Miscanthus, thatll work.

Molina ?? How about Molinia instead ?? But which Molinia ??

Spelling people !!! Get it right. Use spell check. Read a dictionary. Research before you respond. Then check your spelling. Again !!!

Then be nice.

Happy Christmas to all.

Jake

P.S. I only harp on the spelling cuz many times I make spelling mistakes too.


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RE: Ornamental Grass Options.....HELP!

  • Posted by Donn_ Z7, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 1, 05 at 18:43

"Why can't everyone be specific in their plant suggestions?"

In my opinion, regarding questions like the one that started this thread, it makes far more sense to suggest genera of plants that could work in the specified situation, and to provide links to further, more specific information about species and cultivars.


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