Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have seen the beauty of the original tall grass prairie in Iowa – miles and miles of big blue stem (turkey foot), little blue stem, switch grass, and many more? It must have been stunning! With settlement, the tall grass prairie nearly disappeared. Thankfully, in the past 20 years a lot of prairie restoration has been done on roadsides, farms, and acreages. In addition, grasses have become an integral part of landscaping at homes and businesses.
Most varieties of northern grasses are very hardy. They tolerate heat, dryness, hot summers, harsh winters and salt from roadways. Roots go deep! All but a very few varieties of grasses require full sun. A lot of grasses are invasive – in other words - will spread.
When planting grasses, be sure to research the grass you are planting to make sure it meets your needs. If you are restoring or planting a prairie plot, the staff at Natural Plus can advise you. The folks at Lime Creek Nature Center also are very knowledgable about doing prairie restoration.
If you just want to add a few ornamental grasses for your home or business landscaping Natural Plus can advise you and we carry a nice variety of grasses. There are many choices in grasses for the home landscape. Some grow only 1-2’ and others grow 10-12’ or more.
Some of the more popular grasses that are being planted in home landscapes and businesses now are:
· Karl Foerester Feather Reed – Plumes reach about 5-6’ tall. Plants get about 2-3’ wide and stay in a clumping shape – not invasive
· Prairie drop seed – grow about 2-3’ tall and have delicate arching stems
· Flame grass – grows 8-10’ tall and foliage turns a beautiful burgundy red in the fall
· Switch grasses – have arching feathery seed heads – grow about 4' tall
To care for grasses in the home landscaping, water the first season and then they are usually self-sufficient unless there is a prolonged dry period. Plumes add an artistic look above snow in the winter, and it’s best to wait to trim grasses back to the ground until after May 10.