Gardens, like kitchens or bathrooms, need an update sometimes. An easy update? Summer grasses. Grasses add movement, texture, height, color, and winter interest to the garden. Warm season grasses bloom in mid-to-late summer to early fall and come in every size from 6′ x 3′ to 12″ x 12″. Their color range is spectacular, and adding them gives the garden an immediate pick-me-up. They pretty much solve the what-to-plant-for-fall-display in the garden question.

Check out these characteristics and uses of grasses below, then click on the gallery of photos for more information on each grass. Hold your mouse over the picture, and a description will pop up.

Companion Plants:

Tall Grasses: 5-6′

  • Agastache

  • Echinacea

  • Eupatorium

  • Hibiscus

  • Russian Sage

  • Solidago

  • Sedum (tall)

  • Verbena bonariensis

Short Grasses: 2-4′ and under

  • Coreopsis

  • Gaillardia

  • Penstemon

  • Salvia

  • Sedum (tall and groundcover)

  • Yucca


  • Tolerates any soil conditions

  • Attracts butterflies

  • Attract birds

  • Deer resistant

  • Rain gardens

  • Wildlife habitat

  • Wildlife food

  • Drought tolerant

  • Erosion

  • Most work under black walnut

  • Tolerates air pollution

  • Appealing in sweeps & masses

  • Rock gardens

  • Perennial borders

  • Container gardens

  • Screens

  • Focal point

  • Winter Interest

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Fall is near, and the summer blooms are just starting to fade. What corner or front foundation could use sprucing up? Where do you lack fall and winter interest? In small spaces, pick one grass. It can be large, like ‘Heavy Metal,’ but keep it to one cultivar. In larger spaces, layer the grasses using different sizes, colors, and textures, like you would any of your perennials.

Written by Cinthia Milner, Landscape Consultant and blog writer.

B.B. Barns serves all Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.