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Help selecting a clumping grass

Posted by hotpeppernut 7b (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 30, 07 at 20:02

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

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help selecting a clumping grass

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

RE: Help selecting a clumping grass

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'

RE: Help selecting a clumping grass

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!

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