Grasses are the ultimate architectural plant, adding see-through effects, gentle rustling, autumn colour and winter shapes. They also tolerate a range of conditions, from gravel gardens to solid lumpy clay. Grasses can be used in borders as individual eye-catchers, large or small, or repeated in drifts to create a natural look, with paths ambling through and between. Some can even be grown in containers, to help soften formal designs.
Most grasses are easy to grow and once established require little maintenance. For most, the main requirement is full sun; most tolerate a wide range of soils. Grasses are rarely affected by pests or diseases.
The more nitrogen grasses receive the greener and further they’ll grow. This spreading habit is fine in a field, but in a garden they can become too lush and the flower quality may suffer. Feed them in spring like ordinary perennials, with a single dressing of a general fertiliser. Even without an annual feed, most grasses will put on a first-rate show.
Ornamental grasses fall into two groups: evergreen and herbaceous. Herbaceous grasses need cutting back annually so that they will look their best. Generally herbaceous grasses should be trimmed to ground level before growth starts in early spring. Evergreens pretty well just require a tidy-up in spring, removing untidy growth.
Ornamental grasses form clumps of relatively long, finely textured leaves. Grasses are very hardy and wonderfully versatile, creating an accent point near water features or around patios, edging around walkways or just as an interesting, low maintenance ground cover.