Grasses may not be the centerpiece of your gardens but they are a great addition (see Ornamental Grasses). They provide texture and variation; their movements draw attention to everything around them and their rustling, especially when added to bird calls, creates a soothing garden soundtrack. If chosen correctly for your hardiness zone and moisture conditions, landscaping with grasses will provide year-round interest. They’re hardy, need little care and are often overlooked by pests (except deer). Many varieties are available, in both seed and transplant from (wind, erosion and hungry birds take a toll on grasses sown directly in the garden; start them in containers). They’re often the most native plants in native-plant gardens and therefore the most suited for local conditions.
In their wonderful book, Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought-Tolerant Choices for All Climates, Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden list 17 grasses — from the common buffalo grass to the heat-tolerant giant sacaton — that will add color contrasts and dimensional interest to any landscape. They not only tell you which zones particular grasses are suitable for, they note those that are rarely browsed by deer.
Use grasses in your yards and gardens just as a painter would use them in a landscape: to frame shrubs and flowering plants, to lead the eye to different points of interest, to create textured patterns that soothe and contrast. Choose grasses that are best suited for your conditions. Give them plenty of room. As clumps of ornamental grasses grow taller, they’ll droop in beautifully circular shapes while the central stalks stand tall. Here’s a comprehensive list of what ornamental grasses can do for you and your landscape. Here are 15 suggestions for using grasses in your landscape. And here are a number of drought-resistant grasses perfect for dry western climates. The more I learn about grasses, the more I realize that my first statement might be wrong… grasses just might make a great centerpiece in your landscape plans.