One of the tricks of the trade when you want to make an area appear deeper and more interesting is to create layers. I have done this by planting ‘Karl Foerster’ in narrow drifts along the front of beds – often with as few as three plants. This layer of delicate vertical lines waving gracefully in the breeze is almost like looking through an elegant sheer to catch a glimpse of other plants blooming deeper in the bed. Of course, not every grass can be used this way but ‘Karl Foerster’ is one that works beautifully.

This grass grows in clumps with the blades remaining short (under 24 inches) and vertical flower plumes that emerge early in the summer. When planting ornamental grasses make sure the bed or container is deeply cultivated, at least 36 inches, to give the root systems room to grow down. Newly planted ornamental grasses need 1 inch of water weekly for the first growing season. After that they can be quite drought tolerant. Compost or humus is the only soil amendment needed.

In late winter or early spring cut back dead growth and apply a slow release, all-purpose fertilizer. This is a good time to divide overgrown clumps as well.