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ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

 A NATURAL FOR CENTRAL TEXAS

WHY ORNAMENTAL GRASSES?

1. Many species are native but others are well suited to the southeast Texas environment

2. They are pest free, heat tolerant, and low maintenance plants

3. They add a unique texture and form to the garden that is different from all other plants

4. They are adaptable to both wet and dry conditions depending on species

5. They often do well in poor soils when established, unlike many other plants.

6. Their plumage and seed pods are highly decorative and can be dried for decorative use.

7. They improve soil nutrient and texture by recycling decaying organic matter during life cycle

8. They come in all shapes and sizes, plus color variations to add ornamental value  

SOME REFLECTIONS ON USE OF GRASSES IN THE GARDEN   

Ornamental grasses are a "natural" literally. Before the gulf coast and central Texas area was developed, it was a tall grass prairie with virtually no trees, ranging from marsh wetland grasses to inland fertile prairie grasses. These large expanses of grassland were adorned with many species of wild flowers that added spring to fall beauty to the environment. What we see today is a man-made environment of planted trees, shrubs and structures. Grasses were here first - and still have a place in your garden. The term "Ornamental Grasses" refers to any plant in the Graminaceae plant family. This includes true grasses, bamboos (which are in a subfamily bambusiodeae). The term also includes grass look-alikes such as liriope, orphiopogon, acoris and carex (known as sedges)

Some specific ornamental grasses to consider are shown below. This table is not a comprehensive listing and there are many other desirable choices to consider as well.

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We will not cover the many ornamental varieties of bamboos on this page but they are well worth looking into and considering in your landscaping plans. Consider only clumping, not running varieties when choosing to use bamboos of any size.

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Ornamental Grasses to Avoid 

Pampas Grass: (Cortaderia selloana) - very sharp cutting blade edges, massive clumping that is extremely difficult to thin or remove, large size to 8' tall is a maintenance problem.

Giant Reed: (Arundo donax) - a very tall grass to 10' that spreads rampantly by underground stolens that can pop up anywhere, extremely fast growth rate, hard to control.   

These plants might be fine in an open field area but don't belong in an average yard landscape.

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