Ornamental Grasses for Colorado Gardens
We often recognize grasses for their ornamental attributes – dynamic, flowing movement in the breeze, reflecting the dancing light, screening of unsightly areas, as well as their value in providing food and habitat for wildlife. But the grasses are the plant family with the greatest economic value, and it’s interesting to think about grass-based agriculture, the oils derived from grasses, their role in making beverages such as sake, wine, beer, and whiskey, their importance in construction (think thatch roofs, basketry, furniture, fencing, bamboo framing, scaffolding), and of their use in reed instruments.
Harlequin’s Gardens carries many clump-forming grasses that are well suited for the residential or public landscapes, and some of our in-stock favorites are shared below (and we have many more in stock too!). But first, a refresher on three main types of grasses: cool season, warm season, and evergreen.
COOL SEASON: Already up and green by March, cool-season grasses make active growth in cool weather until it gets hot. They can be kept green through summer by watering, but otherwise they go dormant until the fall, when some of them may begin growing again. Most bloom in June, but a few wait until late summer. Because they begin growing so early in the year, they are subject to being demolished by rabbits. People with resident rabbit populations should choose Warm Season grasses instead. Cut grasses back to 2-3” inches tall in February, before they start their active growth, so light can penetrate the entire clump.
WARM SEASON: Most grasses grown in this area are warm-season grasses. Many of our native grasses, and many of the most popular grasses for our area are Warm Season grasses. Wait until late March or early April to cut back warm season grasses. Cut as low as you can, ideally 2-3”, so light can penetrate into the entire clump.
EVERGREEN: Remain mostly green through the year and do not need to be cut back. To clean them up in spring, gently ‘comb’ out old dry blades with a hand rake.