by David Salman

Many years ago when I first became interested in ornamental grasses, I didn't understand how to use them as a component of a landscape design. Now I use ornamental grasses all the time and have discovered how to combine them in the landscape with other plants. This seems to create a wonderful synergism that accentuates all the attributes of grass and non-grass. Sorghastrum (Indian Grass), Panicum (Switch Grass), Bouteloua (Grama), Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem), Andropogon (Big Bluestem), Sporobolus (Sacaton or Dropseed) and Muhlenbergia (Muhly Grass) are genera that contain many of our most showy native ornamental grasses. I'm very gratified to see a building interest in these grasses as they are proving themselves to be some of our most showy, low care, water thrifty native plants. Some of my favorite species and cultivars of these grasses from this list above include; When combining cacti, succulents, flowering perennials and woody plants with these ornamental grasses, I like to try and contrast textures, forms and colors to bring out the best attributes of the plants being planted together. Here are a few photos that illustrate some of these design ideas;