Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners
Stand Up To Winter
Michael Pollan, Second Nature
If you see a good-sized patch of grasses as a weedy mess, Pollan's suggestion of cutting a pathway through them may permanently change your mind about grasses in the landscape. Pollan goes on to explain the transformation, to turn the mown pathway into a reassuring metaphor: "In a path is the beginning of narrative, that sure and welcoming sign of human presence."
Most ornamental grasses grow to mature size in just one season, and there's a grass to fit any landscape, even the narrowest strip of soil between walkways and buildings.
For sustainability, it's hard to beat them. They're drought-tolerant once established; largely unaffected by pests or diseases; work well in containers; provide habitat and food for birds and other wildlife; their deep root systems stabilize banks and discourage gophers and other "tunnellers"; they can grow in almost any type of soil; and they actually improve rather than harm soil quality and fertility.
Ornamental grasses require little maintenance other than an early spring cutback -- at a time of year when most gardeners are eager to get outside.
Here are some ornamental grasses for the home landscape, with shorter grasses listed first:
Taller grasses, larger than 3 feet tall:
Blue Grama Native Grass Seed
Little Bluestem Grass
Field Guide to Wisconsin Sedges
Big Bluestem Grass