Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses
Colorado is experiencing a record-low snowfall this year which may lead to watering restrictions this spring and summer. Drought conditions are nothing new to Coloradoans, which is one reason why xeriscaping is so popular in Castle Rock neighborhoods. Not only does a xeriscape blend well with the natural terrain and surroundings, according to Colorado Water Wise, a good xeriscape design will increase your property values by as much as 15 percent!
And one variety of plants to include in any landscape design are ornamental grasses, which offer a big bang for your buck. They integrate texture into a landscape or garden, and along with mesmerizing movement in a breeze, offer a natural soundtrack!
Hedges, Accents and Focal Points
Ornamental grasses come in nearly every hue, including dark burgundy, steely blue, white and green blends, gold and bronze. The grasses change colors during the growing season, transitioning to deep shades in the fall, and muted tones in the winter.
Jane Rozum, Horticulturist, Colorado State University/Douglas County Extension, says “Ornamental grasses are indispensable for today’s landscapes. They can function as a screen or background plant, accent more colorful plants, or stand alone in groupings. It is no wonder that sales of these resilient grasses have risen 61% in the last 10 years!”
Flourishing Colorado Grasses
We talked with Castle Rock landscaper Ben Seidl of Renovations Landscaping who extolled the drought-tolerant virtues of ornamental grasses. “They require a little bit more water for the first year to get established, but after that you can start to pull irrigation off.”
Ben says ornamental grasses can thrive in many different types of soil and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. “They just hold up really well.”
And the number one most popular ornamental grass in Colorado? Ben says it’s the feather reed grass known as Karl Foerster. “It looks like wheat when it’s blowing in the wind, and you’ll see it in a lot of HOA green spaces. Everyone likes the look of it.”
Other popular ornamental grasses for Colorado yards and landscape projects are the Blue Avena, Zebra Grass, Maiden Grass, Fountain Grass and Pampas Grass. Better Homes and Gardens has a gallery of the top 17 ornamental grasses with links to garden plan renderings to show you different design combinations of flowers and grasses.
Uses and Designs
Since the grasses are so easy to maintain and grow to different heights, Ben says, you can use them as a focal feature (“Pampas Grass grows to seven-eight feet”), or to conceal utility boxes and define borders. “And in the winter, grasses give you something interesting to look at, because they still blow in the wind. The only thing we really have in Colorado for winter interest are pine trees, so grasses add texture and dimension.”
The only real maintenance required for ornamental grasses is in the spring. “Just cut them back to about four inches off the ground and they’ll all grow back,” Ben says.
You may see Ben in the Crystal Valley neighborhoods this spring and summer since he works primarily in Castle Rock. Ben gives free consultations and his company website has an Inspiration Gallery of designs to click through for ideas.
Living Landscapes in Crystal Valley!
The homeowners in the master-planned community of Crystal Valley are already busy designing backyard landscapes and front yard curb appeal! Drive through the neighborhoods and you’ll see a little personality graces every home. Visit the beautiful model homes from Kauffman Homes, D.R. Horton, and Richmond American Homes. Offering new ranch and two-story designs, these new Crystal Valley homes are priced from the $300s.