The hot new trend in planting right now is: grass. Grass? — you may find yourself asking. How could anybody get excited about grass? But that's because you haven't seen this grass. Whether you want to make a strong statement, block out your neighbor's house without a fence, or just add shape, texture, and modern style to your outdoor space, the answer is grass. Let's take a look.
Above: This Italian garden by Giardino Segreto mixes together different wildflowers and ornamental grasses for a textured, modern look. Most ornamental grasses are drought-resistant and fairly easy to grow, so they're a great choice for a low-maintenance garden.
Probably the best known (and most striking) of the ornamental grasses is pampas grass, seen here in the yard of a Shelter Island home spotted on Martha Stewart. In the fall, it produces feathery plumes, almost like a truffula tree. And it's available in white and pink varieties, so you can mix up the colors. Pampas grass can be invasive, so it should be planted in spots where its roots won't spread. Pampas grass is not recommended for California or Hawaii.
A lovely alternative to pampas grass is muhly grass. Both grasses bloom in fall and create distinctive, feathery plumes, but muhly grass does not grow quite as tall as pampas grass, and is native to the Southeastern United States. A nice variety is pink mulhy grass, seen here on State By State Gardening.
This almost otherworldly landscape is a Colorado garden spotted on Martha Stewart. It's planted with a mix of wildflowers and ornamental grasses, including muhly grass and little bluestem grass.
Scott Lewis designed the gardens of this Napa Valley home, which are planted with a huge variety of ornamental grasses. The grass in the top photo is Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition': Gardenista has a full list of all the cultivars in the bottom photo.
In this garden from Traditional Home, lavender combines with ornamental grasses for a modern, imaginative look.
Japanese forest grass grounds a cypress at the base of a planter in this backyard designed by Allworth Design, via Sunset Magazine. Japanese forest grass is a low-growing plant that's perfect as a groundcover in shady areas. It's joined on the ground by blue oat grass.
This Los Angeles garden (from Bliss Garden Design, via Houzz) combines succulents and ornamental grasses. Mixing plants of different textures and heights creates a more natural look, and a feast for the eyes.