Fall Grasses

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Fall Grasses

Fall is my favorite time of the year.

The kids are back at school, life has quieted down a bit, days are getting shorter and colors in your garden are changing. Every day seems to be more and more precious as the cooler temperatures are letting you know winter is right around the corner.

In most parts of California, gardening is considered a year-round event. We don’t have quite the same urgency to ‘batten down the hatches’ in preparation for snowy winters as gardeners in other parts of the country might have. In fact, if planned accordingly, fall can actually be a season when gardens get their second wind and put on one last impressive performance before quieting down for their winter’s nap.

Grasses are one of the main stars of this fall show. There are so many varieties available to fit comfortably within any garden. Grasses with different colors, sizes and bloom-times are the perfect addition as they’re low maintenance, drought tolerant and add beautiful structure to your garden.

For the back of the border, nothing beats the stately Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’), sending out its 3’ golden spikes adding vertical height to your garden. Or consider the deep burgundy colors of Purple Fountain Grass (Pennesitum rubrum), adding beautiful color from July through December.

Don’t have the room for one of the taller varieties? Consider planting a mid-sized Variegated Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutifolia ‘Overdam’), or Purple Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) whose pink tinged seed heads glow in the afternoon light.

At the very front of the border, consider the small and delicate Ruby Grass (Melinis nerviglumis ‘Pink Crystals’) with its burgundy seed heads that sway in the slightest wind. The steely blue foliage of Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’) adds a nice contrast to the yellows and oranges of fall flowers.
So go out into your garden today, and see where it might benefit from some the addition of a few grasses. It’s not too late to plant in your garden. In fact, fall is the best time of year for planting as the cooler temperatures encourage the plant’s energy to be focused in root growth rather than flower production. And because of the stronger root system, you’ll appreciate much happier grasses next year!