Try native grasses
June 29th, 2021
Turf serves an important purpose: it provides recreation areas for adults, kids, and pets alike. But native grasses bring a character all their own, with the added bonus of being low-water and low-maintenance once established. Ornamental grasses can also provide height, varying texture, movement, and year-round interest. Consider adding them to your landscape this year.
A few examples of Colorado native grasses for your consideration:
- Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Did you know that Colorado has an official state grass? It does, and it chose blue grama, a drought-tolerant prairie grass. You can choose to leave it unmown, or you can mow it at 3” or higher, but it can’t handle high foot traffic. Try planting it with native wildflowers for a beautiful, low-maintenance look.
- Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). Want to use native plants but still want turf-like grass? Buffalo grass requires an investment in establishing it, but once successful it is incredibly low-maintenance. As with blue grama, it’s not a good choice if your landscape sees a lot of use or traffic.
- Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). As the name suggests, this plant drops seeds that will support native birds. It grows to about two feet tall and turns a lovely orange color in the fall.
Grasses don't need to be separated into a designated "grass garden." Place grasses among other perennials where they can serve as a border, a backdrop or a vertical element among other plants. Create a grouping of three to five plants as you might with other perennials.
Avoid planting grasses late in the growing season as they tend not to do well with late-season planting. For best results, plant them before September 15 so they have sufficient time to get well established before winter sets in.
Let us to help you choose the right native grasses for your landscape’s microclimates.