ornamental landscaping grass types

Ornamental landscaping grass types are a great way to add some height to your landscape without making a permanent commitment to planting a small tree or small shrub. Ornamental grasses are available as both perennials as well as annuals. 

Several ornamental landscaping grass types get to several feet tall and will add significant height to any landscape. they can also be clumping grasses which remain primarily in the same location they were planted. they can also be spreading grasses that spread using rhizomes and can become invasive.  

Ravina Grass (Saccharum ravennae)

Ravina grass has an average height of about eight to ten feet tall. However, when it starts blooming it can get up to 12 feet in height.

It’s hardy to zone five and is often used as a substitute for Pampas grass in colder climates. Therefore, it’s often referred to as hardy pampas grass. 

It has a different plume compared to the Pampas grass. It has a narrow and sharper looking plume. 

It’s important to note that in southern climates the Ravina grass can be invasive. Some states even include it on their lists of invasive plants. If you want to grow it make sure it’s in a well-manicured and maintained landscape where it will be controlled. 

If you plant Ravina grass anywhere else you need to be very cautious. Avoid planting it in open areas where it can naturalize easily. 

Stay clear of moist areas where it can take off and develop a monoculture stand that can prevent other grasses from growing and can even block waterways. 

Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)

Pampas Grass does well in zones six to seven. The grass has fine leaf blades and is a nice stately grass to add to many landscapes. 

You can add it either individually and it will make a nice focal point or you can plant it in a row and use it as a wind block.

Most of the varieties get to about six feet tall. The Pampas grass produces gorgeous plumes that look like feather dusters on top of the plant.

Most of them have either cream, ivory, or white plumes. There is also a variety known as Pink Feathers that produces pretty pink plumes. 

If you are in zone seven, you can comfortably grow all the varieties. However, if you are in the lower zone sic, you can try the Blue Bayou cultivar. 

Maidenhair Grass (Miscanthus Sinensis)

There are several miscanthus types of grass that landscapers can choose from. The choice depends on what the grass being used for as well as the other factors such as the location as well as the look that the landscaper wants to achieve. 

Miscanthus Gracillimus 

One of the traditional ones is Miscanthus gracillimus which is a well-known landscaping plant. 

It’s a green landscape plant that has a silver midrib and can be found all over towns and landscapes. 

They can also be found with more variegation. The Maidenhair grass maintains a three to five-foot height. 

Gold Bar Miscanthus

Another popular variety is the Gold Bar Maiden Grass which has an upright growth. It also has yellow variegation that runs perpendicular to the leaf blade. 

Zebra Grass Miscanthus

Zebra grass has a fountain growth habit and looks like it’s weeping a little bit. It also has a perpendicular white band across the leaf blades. 

If you want the look of Zebra grass but also desire to have an upright growth habit you can choose Porcupine or Strictus cultivars

These cultivars have upright growth and also have perpendicular banding across the leaves. 

Another cultivar you can try is the Morning Light ornamental grass which is similar to gracillimus. However, its variegation is on the outside of the margins of the leaves. 

The leaves also tend to be a little bit narrow compared to the other cultivars. If you look at the plant from a distance it has a nice golden yellow glow that can be seen on the whole form. 

Rigoletto Maiden Grass

If you want grass with a bolder appearance you might try Rigoletto Maiden grass or Cabaret Japanese Silver Grass. 

Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass is also known as Calamagrostis and is a mid-level popular ornamental grass. 

One of the well-known cultivars is called Karl Foerster. The grass can get to about three to five feet tall.  It produces narrow plumes with pretty tannish bronze color that appear mid-summer and remain for the rest of the season. 

The Feather Reed Grass has a vertical appearance which offers nice lines in the gardens and yards compared to the weeping nature of some of the other ornamental grasses. 

Blue Lyme Grass

Most of the perennial grasses discussed above are primarily clumping grasses. This means that they don’t spread far from the point where they are planted. The clump might spread a little bit but the foliage will always appear at the base. 

However, there are spreading perennial landscaping grasses. These types of grasses travel by rhizomes away from the point where they were planted. 

 As the rhizomes spread, the foliage pops up all across the area and the grass creates a mat of foliage. 

The Blue Lyme grass is an example of perennial spreading grass. It is a popular cool-season grass that experiences most of its growth in the spring and the fall. 

It is hardy from zones four to ten. It can also grow to about three to five feet. One of the cultivars you can grow is the Blue Dune Grass. 

Ribbon Grass

Another spreading perennial grass that you can try growing in your garden is called Ribbon grass. This grass stays short and only gets to a height of about two to three feet tall. 

Its short height makes it work well in the foreground of any landscape. Make sure to give it enough space because it’s going to spread. 

Most of the Ribbon grasses are grown for their foliage and not necessarily for their flowers. One of the variegated cultivars is called Strawberry and Cream. It also has pink tips which are a beauty. 

Japanese Blood Grass

The Japanese Blood grass is sometimes mistaken for Purple Fountain grass because of the red foliage. However, it is a perennial and a spreading glass and doesn’t produce big fountains that you would find on the purple fountain grass. 

It is important to note that the species Imperata cylindrica is listed on the federal noxious weed list. However, the cultivars Rubra or Red baron which are sold in the horticulture trade are not included on the list. 

These grasses also have red tips on their foliage while the invasive straight genus species are green plants. 

This cultivar is noted as noninvasive, doesn’t spread, is less aggressive, and won’t reseed. However, if you see the grass reverting or reseeding in the landscape, remove it immediately.  

The grass is hardy from zones five to nine. Its invasive abilities are a concern in the south from Texas to Florida and Carolinas. Some states such as Alabama have gone so far as to even make it illegal to own, sell and even share the horticulture cultivar Rubra. 

Caring For Ornamental Landscaping Grass 

Caring for ornamental landscaping grass is easy especially those that are perennials. With little maintenance, you can get them to come back year after year. 

During late February to early March prune the grasses back and cut all foliage. At this point, all the foliage will have died and will be brown. 

Cut it near the ground at about six to eight inches above the ground. If the clump is too big, you can tie it tight halfway to the top to make cutting easy. 

Make your cut as close to the ground as possible to ensure that you get that beautiful fountain effect as the new growth starts. If you don’t cut it back properly, the old dead foliage will be visible in between the new growth. 

Don’t cut the dead foliage before winter is over. The dead foliage acts as mulch and protects the grass during the winter months. It also adds some height and texture to the landscape during the winter months. Check this article on caring for and maintaining lawns.


Adding ornamental grasses to any landscape is always a great idea. There are different types and cultivars to choose from to make sure that the grass you plant works well with the landscape. 

I hope you found this post on ornamental landscaping grass types helpful. If so, please share it and also follow me on Flowersthings Pinterest. I would love to connect with you. 

Ornamental Landscaping Grasses Types and varieties



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