7 Best Ornamental Grasses in Michigan for Your Landscapes


Ornamental grasses thrive in michigan’s climate and add natural beauty to any landscape. Michigan gardeners can choose from a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes to accentuate their yard.


Michigan’s diverse landscape provides an ideal climate for ornamental grasses to flourish. These low-maintenance plants grow in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, adding texture and movement to gardens and lawns.

From tall, feathery plumes to compact mounds, there are many options to choose from when selecting ornamental grasses for your Michigan landscape.

Additionally, they provide year-round interest and serve as a habitat and food source for birds and small mammals.

This guide will help you choose the perfect ornamental grasses for your Michigan garden and provide tips on how to care for them.

Ornamental Grasses in Michigan

Types Of Ornamental Grasses In Michigan

Michigan is home to an assortment of ornamental grasses that add texture and interest to any landscape.

Here are some of the most popular types of ornamental grasses in Michigan:

Blue Oat Grass

  • Blue oat grass (helictotrichon sempervirens) features narrow, blue-grey leaves that create an attractive mounding habit.
  • This grass thrives in full sun and well-drained soil and requires low to moderate water.

Feather Reed Grass

  • Feather reed grass (calamagrostis x acutiflora) is a graceful grass with finely textured leaves that turn golden in autumn.
  • This grass is adaptable to a wide range of conditions, including full sun and partial shade. It prefers well-draining soil and moderate water.

Fountain Grass

  • Fountain grass (pennisetum alopecuroides) grows in thick clumps with eyelash-like flowers that resemble fountains or foxtails.
  • It prefers full sun and moderate water and is relatively low-maintenance.

Maiden Grass

  • Maiden grass (miscanthus sinensis) is a tall, spreading grass with feathery plumes and attractive fall color.
  • It prefers full sun and well-draining soil. Be sure to space the plants apart, as they can grow quite large.


  • Switchgrass (panicum virgatum) is an upright, prairie grass that turns striking shades of burgundy and orange in the fall.
  • It thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-draining soil.

Ornamental grasses are a fantastic way to add texture, movement, and interest to your garden. Whether you’re looking for a focal point or a low-maintenance filler plant, michigan has plenty of options to choose from.

Growing And Care Tips For Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can be a great addition to any garden in Michigan, as they offer a unique texture and movement that cannot be found with traditional flowers or shrubs.

However, properly growing and caring for them can be a bit tricky.


In this post, we will provide some tips on how to grow and care for ornamental grasses in michigan.

Choosing The Right Grasses

When it comes to selecting the right ornamental grasses for your Michigan garden, there are several things to keep in mind. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Climate: Michigan’s climate can vary greatly depending on the region. For example, areas near the lake might have cooler temperatures and more moisture than areas in the southern part of the state. Choose grasses that are well-suited for your region’s climate.
  • Size: Consider the size of the grasses at maturity and ensure they fit in well with your garden’s aesthetic.
  • Sunlight: Some varieties of ornamental grasses require full sunlight, while others require partial shade. Make sure to choose grasses that will thrive in the amount of sunlight your garden receives.

Planting Ornamental Grasses

Once you have selected the right grasses for your garden, the next step is to properly plant them. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Timing: Spring and early fall are the best times to plant ornamental grasses in michigan.
  • Soil: Most ornamental grasses prefer well-draining soil. If your soil is heavy, add some organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Spacing: Leave enough space between each plant to allow for proper growth. A good rule of thumb is to space plants according to their mature size.

Caring For Ornamental Grasses

Proper care and maintenance are essential to ensure that your ornamental grasses thrive in your michigan garden. Here are some tips for caring for your grasses:

  • Watering: Ornamental grasses generally don’t require a lot of water, but make sure to water them deeply during periods of drought.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize your grasses once in the spring and again in the fall with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
  • Pruning: Prune your grasses in the early spring before new growth appears. Cut back the old growth to about 2-3 inches above the ground.

Ornamental grasses can be a beautiful and unique addition to any michigan garden with proper care and maintenance. Remember to choose the right grasses, plant them correctly, and care for them regularly to ensure their success.

Design And Landscape Uses Of Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can elevate any garden design with their unique textures, movement, and color variation. They come in various sizes and shapes, making them versatile enough to fit any landscape in Michigan.

Here are some design and landscape uses of ornamental grasses to inspire your next gardening project.

Providing Privacy

Ornamental grasses are an excellent choice for creating natural privacy screens in your Michigan garden. Taller varieties, such as giant Miscanthus or switchgrass, can reach up to 10 feet and mask unsightly areas or neighbor views effectively.

Place them along the borders of your property or near your patio for a more secluded feel.

Adding Texture

Ornamental grasses have a unique texture that can enhance any landscape design. Mix different grass species such as blue fescue, feather reed grass, and zebra grass to create a beautiful contrast in textures.

The leaves’ softness and movement can soften harsh garden edges and provide a calming effect.

Drought Tolerance

The unpredictable Michigan weather can take a toll on garden plants. However, many ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant and able to withstand dry conditions.

The prairie dropseed, blue oat grass, and fountain grass are excellent options for adding beauty to a garden without requiring too much water.

Winter Interest

Adding winter-interest is a crucial aspect of Michigan garden design since the vegetation dies back for a few months. Many ornamental grasses keep their gorgeous form and unique texture throughout the winter, providing year-long structure.

The feather reed grass, switchgrass, and little bluestem are good examples of grasses that thrive all-year-round.

Slope Stabilizers

Suppose you live in a Michigan home with a sloped landscape, or you have a hill in your garden. In that case, ornamental grasses can help address erosion and stabilize the slope.

The maturing roots act as a net that prevents soil from further erosion, making them more than just an aesthetic choice.

Ornamental grasses are stunning plants that add color, movement, texture, and year-long interest to michigan gardens.

With their drought tolerance, ability to stabilize slopes, provide privacy, and add texture, they are an excellent choice for anyone seeking to improve their landscape design.

Winter Care And Overwintering Techniques

As winter approaches, ornamental grasses in Michigan transition from their vivid summer greens and golds to warmer shades of browns and tans.

These hardy plants can withstand cold temperatures but some preparation is necessary to ensure they survive the winter months.

Below are some key points to consider when caring for and overwintering ornamental grasses in Michigan.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses In Late Fall

  • Cut back the grasses to 6-12 inches from the ground.
  • This encourages new growth in the spring and prevents the grass from becoming weighed down and damaged by heavy snowfall.

Protect Grasses From Harsh Winter Winds

  • Winter winds in Michigan can be brutal and damaging to ornamental grasses.
  • Planting grasses in groups or clusters can help protect them from wind damage.
  • Surrounding the plants with a fence or burlap barrier also provides additional shelter.

Mulch Ornamental Grasses In The Fall

  • Mulching helps protect the plant roots during the winter.
  • Apply 3-4 inches of mulch around the base of the grass, making sure the foliage remains uncovered.

Water Grasses During Winter Months

  • Michigan’s harsh, cold weather can be dry and dehydrating.
  • Watering the plants every three weeks during the winter months helps keep grasses healthy and hydrated.

Be Cautious Of Heavy Snowfall

  • Heavy snowfall in Michigan can be damaging to ornamental grasses.
  • Avoid piling snow onto the plants and try to remove as much snow as possible to prevent breakage.

Consider Using Anti-Desiccant Sprays

  • An anti-desiccant spray is a protective coating applied to the plant’s foliage.
  • This spray helps to reduce water loss during the winter months, keeping the ornamental grasses healthy and vibrant.

Prepare Grasses In Warmer Months For A Healthy Winter

  • Strong, healthy grasses are more likely to withstand harsh Michigan winters.
  • Fertilize the plants in the spring and summer to encourage growth and keep them healthy for the winter months.

Choose The Right Grass For Your Area

  • Michigan has a range of climate zones, so it’s important to choose a grass that will thrive in your area’s unique conditions.
  • Consider factors such as soil type, sunlight, and water requirements when selecting ornamental grasses for your garden.

Ornamental grasses can add texture, color, and beauty to any Michigan garden. With proper care and attention during the winter months, these hardy plants will continue to thrive year after year.

Popular Ornamental Grasses For Michigan Gardens

If you’re looking to add a low-maintenance, yet visually pleasing element to your Michigan garden, ornamental grasses are an excellent option.

There are plenty of species to choose from, each with its unique characteristics.

Miscanthus Sinensis

Miscanthus sinensis, also known as Japanese silver grass, is one of the most popular ornamental grasses in Michigan. Here are some key points:

  • This grass can grow up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
  • It produces beautiful plumes of flowers in the fall.
  • Miscanthus sinensis is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and growing conditions.

Panicum Virgatum

Panicum virgatum, or switchgrass, is another popular ornamental grass. Here are some key points:

  • This grass features beautiful blue-green leaves and grows up to 6 feet tall.
  • Switchgrass is low maintenance and tolerant of a wide range of soil types.
  • It’s also deer resistant, making it an excellent option for gardens in Michigan.

Andropogon Gerardii

Andropogon gerardii, or big bluestem, is a native grass to Michigan and is a great option for those looking to add a touch of native beauty to their garden. Here are some key points:

  • Big bluestem can grow up to 9 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
  • It’s tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including sandy and clay soils.
  • This grass features beautiful reddish-brown flowers, which bloom in late summer.

Calamagrostis Acutiflora

Calamagrostis acutiflora, commonly known as feather reed grass, is a popular ornamental grass that’s well-suited for Michigan gardens. Here are some key points:

  • This grass grows up to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
  • Feather reed grass produces beautiful feathery flowers in mid-summer.
  • It prefers moist soil conditions and can improve the soil’s drainage.

These four ornamental grasses are just a few of the many options available to michigan gardeners. Each grass has its unique characteristics and can add beauty and interest to any garden. Whether you’re looking to add height, color, or texture to your garden design, there’s an ornamental grass that’s perfect for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Popular Ornamental Grasses In Michigan?

Some popular ornamental grasses in Michigan include the big bluestem, prairie dropseed, little bluestem, and the switchgrass. These grasses are ideal for Michigan’s climate and soil.

How Do You Care For Ornamental Grasses In Michigan?

Ornamental grasses in Michigan require little maintenance. They only need to be watered once a week, and pruning should be done in early spring. Ensure that they get enough sunlight and fertilize once a year.

What Is The Best Time To Plant Ornamental Grasses In Michigan?

The best time to plant ornamental grasses in Michigan is in the spring or fall, when the ground has warmed up. This allows for proper root development before the colder temperatures in winter.

Are Ornamental Grasses In Michigan Deer-Resistant?

Some ornamental grasses in Michigan like the little bluestem, panicum ‘Shenandoah,’ and switchgrass are deer-resistant.

However, other types such as the feather reed grass and purple love grass are not resistant and may be eaten by deer.

Can Ornamental Grasses In Michigan Grow In Shade?

Most ornamental grasses in Michigan grow best in full sun, but some species like Japanese forest grass and hakonechloa can tolerate shade. However, they may not grow as tall or dense in shade.


As we come to the end of our discussion on ornamental grasses in Michigan, we hope that you have gained insight into the beauty and benefits of these plants.

From providing texture and movement to your garden, to attracting birds and other wildlife, ornamental grasses are a valuable addition to any landscape.

Their low maintenance and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions make them a popular choice among gardeners in Michigan.

With so many types and varieties to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect grass to suit your tastes and preferences.


So, don’t hesitate to incorporate these stunning plants into your garden and enjoy the beauty they bring.

Remember, ornamental grasses are not just a pretty face; they’re an essential element of a healthy and sustainable environment for both you and your local wildlife.

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