If you have taken on landscaping as a summer project, you may be considering what ornamental grass to use. Ornamental grass adds texture and beauty to your yard. Finding the right plants and grass for your area’s soil and climate can be difficult. There are so many varieties of ornamental grass, and the lawn care experts of Lee’s Summit are here to help you figure out which type or types are best for your outside oasis.

12 Best Ornamental Grasses

Keep reading for the 12 best ornamental kinds of grass to liven up your midwest landscaping. Pay special attention to the light and soil needs for each plant to figure out the best ornamental grass for you. 

1. Fountaingrass

Fountaingrass is a heaping plant with a beautiful, round shape for all types of gardens. This mounding plant can grow to five feet tall and is bright green with bottlebrush flowers. Best in zones 5-9 and growing conditions of full sun and well-drained soil, the fountain grass plant is perfect for landscaping right here in the midwest. 

2. Feather Reed Grass

Feather reed grass is a popular ornamental plant and highly recommended by the experts. With the upright, narrow form, the feather reed grass adds dimension to your landscape. Varying in size, this ornamental grass can grow from two to five feet and is best in zones 5 -9. 

The perennial grows tiny flowers in early summer; seed heads mature to golden midway through summer and stay attractive until late fall.

how to add feather reed grass to your landscaping

3. Ornamental Grass – Mexican Feather Grass

Even though some people consider Mexican feather grass invasive, if the perennial is contained, Summit Turf Services considers the plant a great addition to landscaping. Mexican feather grass thrives in poor soil conditions and tolerates dry conditions well compared to other ornamental grasses. 

Mexican feather grass can go from 6 inches to three feet tall and is best grown in zones 6-10.

4. Blue Oat Grass

Blue oat grass has beautiful silver-blue blades that grow in an elegant mound shape. This ornamental grass won’t spread throughout your whole garden and takes very little care. After the plant reaches its full growth, it can tolerate dry areas but prefers medium-moisture, well-drained soil, and full sun. 

Blue oat grass is best in zones 4-9 and grows up to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

5. Blue Fescue

Unlike the previous two ornamental kinds of grass, the blue fescue is known as low growers. Usually used as borders, ground covers, and edgings. The growing zones for Blue Fescue are 4-9, and the soil needed is dry to medium moisture and well-drained. Note that the blue fescue perennial does not grow in heavy wet soil.

why blue fescue is such a good ornamental grass

6. Japanese Forest Grass

What makes the Japanese Forest Grass one of our favorites is the beautiful hues of gold, green, and yellow. This low-growing and mounding plant comes from areas around Mt. Hakone in Japan. This plant is perfect to brighten up any garden or landscaping. Requiring regular watering and best grown in zones 5 to 9, the Japanese Forest Grass grows best in moist and well-drained soil.

7. Purple Millet

One of the only annual ornamental plants on this list, the Purple Millet is a beautiful but tough grass with burgundy and purple foliage. The purple millet grows best in well-drained soil with either full sun or partial shade. Five feet tall, the ornamental grass is compatible in all zones and a great addition to midwest landscaping.

8. Switchgrass

An ornamental grass perfect for late summer and fall, switchgrass is lightly branched spikelets with variations of colors including green, dark metallic, and red-orange. These beautiful airy plumes can grow up to five feet tall, and thrive in conditions of full sun, partial shade, well-drained soil, and can withstand heat well.

switchgrass and landscaping

9. Maiden Grass

For zones 4-9 and growing to 8 feet tall, maiden grass is big, beautiful, and low maintenance. Narrow foliage with an arching shape to create dimension in your landscaping, the maiden grass adds color to your lawn but does not overpower other plants. The ornamental plant can grow in sun, partial sun, and moist soil. 

10. Ravenna grass

The largest ornamental plant on this list is the Ravenna grass. This fast-growing perennial with pretty, silver plumes, can grow to 12 feet tall. Ravenna grass flourishes in full sun with lean soil and little water. Best for zones 6-9, consider Ravenna grass to add height and dimension to your landscaping. 

11. Zebra Grass

Sometimes referred to as porcupine grass, zebra grass is green and pale yellow stems that grow in bunches of about 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. With its exotic and tropical look, zebra grass pairs beautifully with bright, broad-leafed plants and flowers. Best grown in zones 5 through 9 with full sun and a variety of different soil types. 

12. Pink Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass is named after the botanist, Henry Muhlenberg. Pink Muhly Grass is also known as sweetgrass, gulf grass, and mist grass. With pink featherlike plumes, this ornamental grass is known to add bright color to landscape designs. Muhly grass looks great in large groups bordering other perennials and plants. The wispy pink blooms need full sun to part shade and medium-moisturized soil.  

Last Thoughts on Ornamental Grass for Your Landscaping

An important factor to note about ornamental grass is that the plants listed either have a clumping habit or a spreading habit. Ornamental grasses that are taller tend to have a spreading habit whereas the smaller, more compact ornamental plants clump together. Depending on the look you want throughout your landscape or garden should point to the best ornamental grass for you. 

Not only does ornamental grass add texture, dimension, and beauty, but the landscaping addition also takes very little work. Choosing the best grass for your climate and soil is the first step, and then maintaining ornamental grass takes minimal effort. To take your landscaping to the next level, consider adding ornamental plants like the ones we listed above. Not sure if you’re up for the summer landscaping project? Let Summit Turf Services take over, and call us today!