Create a Bird Friendly Garden with Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are wonderful additions to any garden. They create the natural look of a wild field or meadow by sending up long, beautiful tufts of seed that rustle in the wind all winter long.

Ornamental grasses come in many colors and sizes making them a perfect addition in almost any garden with many varieties being hardy to zone 4.

With so many varieties to choose from, it may be hard to decide which one is best for you. Start by considering the size and color. Size is important since some varieties may only reach 10 inches at maturity while others may grow as high as 10 feet. Color is more of a personal choice. There are many colors available including green, blue and some variegated varieties.

Ornamental grasses perform a special function in a bird-friendly garden by providing natural shelter and food, in the form of seeds.

These are some of my favorite ornamental grasses. Any of these would be a lovely addition to the bird feeders in your bird-friendly garden.

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'):

  • Height 5 to 8 feet

  • Hardiness Zones: 4-9

  • Light Requirements: Sun to partial shade

  • Soil/Moisture: Prefers moist soil; flourishes in moist soil to standing shallow water

  • Form/Texture: Narrow, upright habit; stiff appearance; fine texture

  • Comments: Wide green leaves with irregularly spaced yellow horizontal bands; tends to flop.

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'):

  • Height: 6 to 8 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Light Requirements: Sun to light shade
  • Soil/Moisture: Grows in a variety of soil types but prefers well drained soil; drought tolerant
  • Form/Texture: Fine texture; upright to open; tends to weep or arch; rounded form
  • Comments: Medium green, narrow leaves with white midrib; slender weeping leaves; copper orange to almond fall color; tends to flop with shade, excess moisture, or high fertility; one of the last grasses to flower.

Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides):

  • Height: 3 to 4 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil/Moisture: Grows in a variety of soil types but prefers well drained soil
  • Form/Texture: Upright, open mound; fine texture
  • Comments: One of the most versatile, dependable and showy grasses. Plumes are 4 to 10 inches long; leaves turn golden yellow in fall.

Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa):

  • Height: 2 to 3 feet
  • Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9
  • Light Requirements: Light to moderate shade; will grow in full sun but reduces quality of foliage and flower.
  • Soil/Moisture: Grows in a variety of soil types but prefers well drained soil; drought tolerant.
  • Form/Texture: Clump; densely tufted; mass of fine hair like leaves; upright open; fine texture.
  • Comments: Cool season grower; variable in flower and foliage; dark green leaves; evergreen; self seeds; salt tolerant.

Blue fescue (Festuca glauca):

  • Height: 6 to 10 inches feet
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Light Requirements: Full sun (best color) to partial shade
  • Soil/Moisture: Well drained, moist to dry soil
  • Form/Texture: Fine texture; Dense tufted mound
  • Comments: Grown for blue-green foliage; can be used as a ground cover or accent plant; semi-evergreen; tends to die out when grown in heavy, poorly drained soil.

Plant variety is important when creating any garden. This is especially true for a bird-friendly garden.

Choosing a variety of plants, including ornamental grasses, will attract a larger variety of wild birds.

Return from Ornamental Grasses to A Home For Wild Birds Home

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