Horticulture Hi-Lites

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses
by Jerry Larson, DREC Horticulture Specialist

The use of ornamental grasses is becoming increasingly popular in Dickinson and throughout Western North Dakota. Decorative perennial grasses add: varied colors, texture and sizes. They can be used in home landscapes to provide accent, frame a view, screening, animation and add year-round interest. One big advantage is that grasses are very low maintenance with very few insect and disease problems.

It is very important to select the right grass for the right spot in your yard. Cool season grasses like brome grass and Blue Lyme grass spread by stolons or rhizomes which are very invasive and can take over plantings. Warm season bunch grasses form dense clumps, require less space, are heat and drought tolerant, provide unique late season interest and are less invasive.

The first thing to consider when selecting an ornamental species is winter hardiness. We are located on the edge of Zone 3 and Zone 4. This factor has resulting in suing native grasses and many ornamental plantings. This would include: Big and Little Bluestem, green needle grass, Indian grass, Blue and Sideots grama, switchgrass and several others.

Many introduced perennial grasses are available. My personal favorite is Feather Reedgrass - 'Karl Forester' and 'Avalanche'. Both form dense clumps and stay where you plant them. 'Avalanche' has unique yellow/green variegated leaves. Less hardy grasses like Fountain Grass can be used but due to lack of hardiness, they need to be used as annual plants.

For additional ornamental grass information, visit: http://www.ext.nodak.edu/county/cass/horticulture/grass.htm





Acer ginnala, (Amur Maple)

Amur Maple is very hardy and can be maintained as a large shrub, multi-stemmed clump or as an attractive individual tree form. Rounded shape growing 15-20' tall with a spread of 15 feet. The maple shaped leaves are medium green and then to brilliant scarlet in fall.



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