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Ornamental Grass Used as Ground Covers

Grass ElijahBlueFescueOrnamental grasses make excellent ground covers. Clump-forming grasses can be used to make attractive patterns while fast spreading running grasses can stabilize the soil and reduce erosion. Both the foliage and seed adds are ornamental and many grasses remain attractive all winter. With variations in texture, height, form, and color, grasses can add variation as well as movement to the landscape.

Five Top Picks

Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina var. glauca aka F. cinerea, F. glauca)www.njplantsandtrees.com This popular cool weather grass is clump-forming and evergreen. The foliage is fine textured and comes in various shades of blue or gray. The flowers vary in size and can be showy to inconspicuous. Many cultivars are available varying in height color, and flower size.

    Height: 4-18”
    Light: Full sun
    Soil: moist, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Japanese Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)Ogon Japanese Sweet Flag A great choice for wet or boggy areas, Japanese sweet flag is an evergreen grass-like plant. It has dark green, glossy fragrant leaves six to twelve inches long and small inconspicuous flowers. It spreads slowly by rhizomes. May be attacked by spider mites. Cultivars are available including variegated, compact and miniature ones that are especially useful and attractive.

    Height: 6-12”
    Light: Full sun; some shade in especiallyhot climates
    Soil: Constantly moist but well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 7-10

Purple Three Awn (Aristida purpurea)Aristida purpurea A native of Southwestern North America, this semi-evergreen grass forms fine textured sage green clumps. The showy, persistent flowers are purplish green as they emerge on spikes 1.5-2.5 feet long but darken in color as the seeds mature. The needle-like awns catch the light creating an airy sparkling effect.

    Height: 6-12”
    Light: Full sun
    Soil: Well-drained; resents moist or boggy soil
    Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Snowy Woodrush (Luzula nivea)Luzula nivea This evergreen grass produces clumps of gray-green leaves with soft hairs. Clusters of fluffy white flowers arise on spikes 12-16” above the foliage. The clusters turn light brown as they dry and persist into winter.

    Height: 8-12
    Light: Light shade
    Soil: Moist, humusy
    Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Giant Blue Rye Grass (Elymus racemosus ‘Glaucus’)Rye grass giant blue With long thick rhizomes and sand salt and wind tolerance this deciduous grass is an excellent choice for stabilizing dunes and controlling erosion on sandy banks. It has metallic blue foliage that forms an attractive mound that creates an effective drop back for bright colored flowers. Flowers are inconspicuous.

    Height: 1-3’
    Light: Full sun to light shade
    Soil: Dry to moist
    Hardiness: Zones 4-10