Ornamental Grasses Idiot Proof Landscaping

These days, foliage color and texture has become of greater importance in the landscape, container gardens, or in planters. We find ourselves ending up with the same handful of annuals, deciduous shrubs, evergreens, and perennials. We often overlook a plant family who can give us both color and texture; this plant family would be ornamental grasses.

Ornamental grasses hold a focal area in the landscape. Wanted for their foliage appearance; flower shoots (plume), texture, and winter interest. Foliage color among grasses can vary immensely, ranging from leaf colors of green, white, yellow, purple, orange and red tones to stripes, bands, and numerous variegation combinations. Growth habits include mounding, spreading and uprights with heights ranging from 6 inches to 12 feet.

Common uses for ornamental grasses in the landscape are changes in texture and height, softening up vertical edges, and camouflage for your utility boxes and water meters. The texture of the grasses is typically used to contrast broadleaf plants and to soften up the landscape. Grasses are free flowing and help us break the uniformity of highly manicured landscaping, providing a more natural appeal. Grasses can be both eye-catching as well as pleasing to the eye.

Plumes come up on stalks during the late part of the summer to the first part of the fall. The plumes, feather-like in appearance, can range in color from white to cream, black, pink or even a purplish tinge to them. Plumes can vary in size and shape adding even more to a plant that already looks good and brings the total package to any landscape.

Hardy in most conditions ornamental grasses do well in sun, part sun, and some varieties even in the shade. They also do well in moist and even wet conditions making them great additions to rain gardens and bioswales There is practically no place in the landscape an ornamental grass could not fit.

Creating idiot proof winter interest or indoor décor. As the grasses go dormant in the fall, leave the plumes uncut. The results will be a beautiful outdoor feature to enjoy during the late fall and winter. Offering protection from harsh winter conditions, the upright grass blades, are spectacular when snow covered. In addition, can provide shelter for wildlife. For some inside décor, bundle the plumes up, cut them off at ground level and place them in a nice decorative pot inside your home as a showpiece.

Considered low maintenance, ornamental grasses, will need to be cut back each year. Very forgiving, ornamental grasses can be cut back at any time from late December to early spring. Taller ornamental grasses must be cut back to allow new growth to rise from the center of the grass clump. Left uncut during spring growth cycle, the center stalks well be weak and underperforming from a lack of sunlight.

Rejuvenate your landscape adding low maintenance ornamental grasses that will reward you with color, texture, and the benefit of year long interest. Grass Pad nurseries stock a large selection of hardy and decorative annual varieties of ornamental grasses. Bring your catalogs and compare. Buy local and save money at Grass Pad.

Fantastic Five Ornamental Grasses

5. Dwarf Fountain Grass - Slender green leaves and tan, wooly, caterpillar-like blooms from mid-summer through autumn. Drought tolerant. Foliage height is 2' with blooms 3'.

4. Shenandoah Switch Grass - Bright red foliage deepens to burgundy by fall. Blooms begin in color, up by early June. A good substitute for Japanese Blood Grass. Foliage height is 2' to 3' with 4' blooms.

3. Maiden Grass - A tall, graceful, and clumping ornamental grass with slender, weeping, and silvery green leaves that turn golden bronze in fall. White, fan-shaped plumes in fall extend above the foliage. Foliage height is 5' with blooms 7'.

2. Japanese Silver Grass - A creamy-white variegated grass, Reddish-brown feathery seed heads turn to white plumes and contribute to the striking appearance of this grass. Matures at 6' to 8' tall and 4' to 5' wide. An excellent alternative to Pampas Grass.

1.  Karl Foerster Feather Reed Switch Grass - Beautiful cool season grass with an upright growth habit. Flowers in late spring starting as bright pink to red and fading to buff. Thrives in poor soils. Foliage height 2.5' to 3.5' with blooms to 6'.

Uncle’s Secret for Crabgrass Control

Uncle’s secret to crabgrass control isn’t really a secret. Uncle has been telling us since we were knee high to a grasshopper. After fifty years’ experience in sod production, Uncle knows a little about killing crabgrass and when Uncle spoke our customers listened. Uncle’s Idiot Proof Lawn Care begins in spring with an understanding there are two different categories of weeds to deal with in your lawn and each requires a different manner of control. Furthermore, understanding routine, timely feedings not only keep the lawn green but keep it thick and aggressive to fight off weed pressure and disease.

Annual grassy weeds, like crabgrass, foxtail and goose grass germinate each spring from seed. Low growing and prostrate to the ground forcing out weak and summer stressed turf grasses for prime real estate in your lawn. Annual grassy weeds die at first hard frost leaving behind bare spots and seeds for the next generation of weeds.
Preventing crabgrass and other annual grassy weeds start now with an application of PREVENT® before the soil warms and crabgrass seeds start to germinate. PREVENT®, when activated, creates a barrier on the soil to kill crabgrass seeds before they mature. In addition, PREVENT® contains a combination of slow and fast release turf food for spring & summer green up.

The real secret to crabgrass control is using two applications of PREVENT®. Uncle’s two application PREVENT® formula extends crabgrass control through heavy spring rains and dry, hot summers while one step formulas simply breakdown and fade away. They didn’t need to tell Uncle, but University testing has shown that two application pre-emergent formulas outperform one application formulas under Kansas and Missouri weather conditions.

Spread the first application of PREVENT® in Mid-March to Mid-April. The second application of PREVENT®, works as a booster shot, going down in late May to early June. For the best results always apply ½” of water within 48 hours after application. 

Dormant Seeding Sooner is Better than Later

The basic rule is simple. Homeowners who put on a sweater today and get their spring lawn projects started now will be months ahead of their neighbors who wait for short sleeve weather.

Grass seed varieties sown in February and March will have a 10-week head start on the weed and insect season, which begins in earnest in mid-May. Bugs and weeds prefer hot weather. Insect eggs hatch, weed seeds sprout, thicken and spread as soil and air temperatures rise.

Thin areas and bare spots will show up quickly as the rest of the lawn begins to turn green in March. Dead crabgrass and foxtail form brown patches and bare spots in the otherwise green turf. Heavily shaded areas, new construction around patios, and driveways, as well as larger open areas, are barren and in danger of erosion. All these areas need prompt attention if they are to be seeded and well-established before hot summer weather arrives.

Many mid-west lawns are hybrid forms of bluegrass and perennial rye grass. These grass varieties prefer cool soil and air temperatures. During cold winter months, their root systems continue to grow. As spring comes, these deep root systems help the grass thicken and send up new plants. Early spring fertilizer helps fill in bare spots before air temperatures increase and weeds become aggressive.

New generations of perennial rye varieties found in Stadium Special perform particularly well in this region. These hybrids sprout quickly in cold soil, can survive hot summer weather and blend well with bluegrass or fescue lawns. For best results in dormant seeding, rake and top dress all bare spots using PrimeraFC or sphagnum peat. But, if soil is too wet or weather does not permit, these seed varieties may be sown directly over the lawn or a light snow cover. The seed itself is large and has a food reserve that allows the grass plant to sprout and survive without ideal soil contact.

Dormant seeded bluegrass varieties found in Blue Wave require more time to germinate than Stadium Special containing hybrid perennial rye varieties. Dormant seeding exposes seed to natural freezing and thawing cycle of early spring. This swelling and drying help crack the outer shell of the seed. Soil temperatures become warm; the bluegrass plant is ready to sprout. Seed sown in this fashion will come up two to three weeks sooner than bluegrass not sown until warm weather arrives. Common bluegrass varieties should be avoided especially in the spring. Hybrid perennial ryes blended with elite bluegrass varieties found in Estate Mix will develop more quickly and are better able to survive the summer heat.

Turf-type fescue does not like cold weather. Fescue lawns often stay a muddy brown even after their bluegrass neighbors have started to show a bright spring green up. Early season dormant seeding with Macho Mix, which includes five percent hybrid perennial rye will have the best results for a drought tolerant fescue lawn. Turf fescue seeded in this fashion sprouts one to two weeks sooner than fescue held until warm weather before sowing.

The biggest enemy of dormant seeded fescue is brown patch disease that comes in May and June. New seedlings are more susceptible to brown patch than older more mature grass plants. Turf-type tall fescue blends such as Heat Wave show excellent resistance to brown patch. Granular Fungus Fighter may also be applied in mid-May to help young plants through this critical period.

A Golf Course Starter fertilizer applied to the new seed in March will encourage the seed to establish quickly. An April application of Tupersan will assist in preventing crabgrass and foxtail in newly planted areas as the grass plants mature. Avoid using broadleaf dandelion weed killers until the new seed has grown enough to have been mowed two times.

Five Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulbs

Zoom! for Bulbs
ZOOM! for Bulbs
Colorful masses of eye-catching spring bulbs are an easy cure for those winter doldrums. Bulbs planted in fall make dazzling beds of bright neon colors blooming from February to May. Now is the time to get to the Grass Pad for the best selection. Dutch bulbs shipped straight from Sassenheim to Grass Pad Warehouses have arrived. Dutch Uncle has been buying bulbs from Holland for over 40 years. Uncle knows a Dutch Deal and these are his picks for the Fantastic Five Spring Flowering Bulbs to plant in the mid-west.

No. 5 Allium - Allium belong to the ornamental onion family. However, these will not be on the dinner plate. These idiot proof bulbs are some of the most distinctive fall planted bulbs adding height and texture to spring gardens. Hardy through most of the mid-west climate, allium tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. Available in a variety of heights, colors, and blooms, allium, with their lollipop look are a fun and whimsical flower to have in the garden.

No 4. Hyacinth - Charming bloom with a fragrance and aroma that will compare to finest French perfumes make hyacinths a Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulb. Hyacinth can be planted by themselves or as a feature in beds mixed with tulips and daffodils. Blooming early to mid-spring. Easily adapting to the mid-west environment, hyacinth has shown to be deer and rodent resistant. A single flower will appear from each bulb along with glossy green leaves. Hyacinth makes an excellent cut flower for color and fragrance. Hyacinth bulbs can be pre-chilled, or forced, for indoor color during winter months.

No. 3 Crocus - The first flowers to sprout from the earth each spring, crocus bring forth hope for the warmer days and bright blooms of spring. Crocus bulbs must be planted during the autumn months to bloom during the spring. A true perennial, they naturalize well, multiply very quickly, can be planted nearly anywhere, and require little care from one year to the next. They also tend to be highly resistant to deer. Crocus will be flowered and gone by the time daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips begin to color – their addition is an excellent way to extend the bloom season in a garden.

No. 2 Daffodils - Daffodils are the idiot proof bulb demanding the least effort for the highest reward. Undoubtedly one of the most recognized flowers, daffodils are extremely hardy and easily naturalize here in the mid-west. Daffodils must be planted in late fall to grow and bloom with their trumpet-shaped flowers, heralding the announcement of the spring. Most often spotted blooming in varieties of yellow, daffodils are available in a few other colors and bi-colored combinations. Inspiring when planted in clusters, daffodils make an excellent cut flower. One bulb can grow many stems and have one bloom on each. Available in various heights, colors and bloom times, daffodil will stay in color for many weeks.
Uncle's tip: Daffodils are one of the few garden flowers resistant to deer and rodents.

No. 1 Tulips - The most fantastic flowering bulb is the tulip. Prized for the flowers, tulips are deeply rooted in the Dutch culture and economy. Stunningly beautiful when clustered into large garden spaces and containers, tulips are the superstar of any flower bed or container. When complimented with crocus, daffodil or hyacinth tulips will make brilliant spring color combinations. The rainbow of colors available in tulips alone is unmatched. A mixture of early, mid and late season bloom times allows tulips to create color beds and containers for an extended period in spring.

See Related: Tulips Not All the Same

All Grass Pad locations have thousands of spring flowering bulbs available in early, mid or late season bloom times, heights and colors. Our warehouses are full of the very best quality bulbs at cheaper than internet prices with no sawdust. Our Dutch Uncle selects only the best for the mid-west. Bring your catalogs and compare.

See Related: Choosing & Planting Fall Bulbs

Tulips Not All the Same

ZOOM! for Bulbs
ZOOM! for Bulbs!
Chosen as the most Fantastic Spring Flowering Bulb tulips continue to be the most popular with our customers. Valued for their flowers, tulips are deeply rooted into the Dutch culture. At one time, the entire Dutch economy was built upon the tulip. Originally from Turkey, tulips were brought to Eastern Europe in the 16th century, and have now become one of the world's most admired flowers.

You might think a tulip is just a tulip, but there are many diverse varieties of tulips available. Each type with its unique characteristics and habits. Here are six of the most popular types of tulips.

Triumph tulips are the most popular of all varieties. With its traditional shape tulip bloom, Triumph tulips are available in almost any color imaginable. Grown on a sturdy stem, Triumph makes an attractive garden flower as well as a fresh cut flower with a very long vase life.

Darwin hybrid tulips have the tallest and largest blooms and make an excellent choice for the home garden. Most Darwin hybrids are early season bloomers. An interesting side note, Darwin blooms have a habit of closing during cooler nights and opening with the warming sun.

Fosteriana tulips, known as Emperor tulips, are an excellent choice to fill your flower beds with a full season of color. With a uniquely shaped wide and long flower, Fosteriana tulips grow medium to tall. Emperor tulips are most impressive when planted in masses.

Greigii tulips bring the most fun to the garden spaces and planters. With variegated stems and shorter in stature, Greigii tulips pop with a massive flower bloom. The striped stems with purple streaks give flower beds and containers a little extra pizazz in early spring. Excellent choice for rock gardens, borders and containers.

Fringed tulips are the “shock and awe” of the tulip garden. One look at these distinctively shaped blooms and folks will be turning their heads. For an extended bloom life, plant fringed tulips in protected or covered areas. The flowers tend to hold water inside the petal and can shorten the bloom time.

Parrot Tulips have a ruffled and feather like texture resembling the wings of a parrot. Parrot tulips are the most outrageous of all tulip varieties. Most Parrot tulips are late season bloomers. The blooms tend to open with more sunlight and sometimes change colors as the flower matures. Their unique flower shape can make them susceptible to the wind and heavy rain damage, so it is best to plant in a protected area.

See Related: Choosing &Planting Fall Bulbs