Change the look of your garden with these exotic grass varieties

Back to Lifestyle

Ten grasses that will spruce up your garden design

1. Anemanthele lessoniana

An evergreen grass with lovely arching fountain-like stems that grows to around 1m tall. It starts off green, then becomes a pretty mixture of autumnal tones later in the year. It will self seed, but the seedlings are easy to pull out if they’re not wanted.

2. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’

Tall and upright, growing to nearly 2m and turning a lovely buff colour in autumn, this stately plant is perfect for screening or to create a statement in a contemporary setting. Cut it right down to the ground in February and it will shoot up again quickly.

3. Festuca glauca

The soft blue-grey sheen of festuca glauca makes a lovely edging to borders or paths, or in pots. It’s neat and rounded, growing to just 30cm tall. Give it a spot in full sun for the best colour, and just comb through it with a gloved hand in winter to get rid of dead foliage.

4. Deschampsia cespitosa


A favourite with garden designers, this evergreen is crowned with arching sprays of silver-purple in summer, which look lovely in dried flower arrangements. It likes a spot in either sun or dappled shade, where it will reach around 1.5m.

5. Stipa tenuissima

Gorgeous wispy, wafty yellow-green leaves topped in summer with silver plumes of flowers. This looks wonderful planted in swathes among late-summer flowering perennials or in a sunny gravel garden. It grows to about 60cm tall.

6. Helictotrichon sempervirens

Neat mounds of blue-grey leaves topped with golden plumes in summer. This is an evergreen grass happy in sun or a little shade, somewhere it won’t get waterlogged - lovely in a gravel garden or as a focal point in a flower border. It will reach around 1.4m tall.

7. Stipa gigantea


A huge architectural grass, growing to over 2m tall, with arching golden flowerheads on grey-green leaves. It needs a spot in full sun, where it will really catch the eye as it wafts gently in the breeze. Comb through with gloved hands in early spring to get rid of dead leaves.

8. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’


The cream-striped deep-green leaves give a lovely dappled effect to this graceful grass. It has silky flowers in late summer that look great right into winter. It needs a spot in full sun, where it will grow to over 1m tall.

9. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’


A real stunner of an ornamental grass, which will bring a distinctly Japanese feel to your garden. Small zesty yellow-green hummocks, about 30cm talll with cascading slender leaves. Brilliant planted en masse under decideous shrubs, or in a minimalist scheme.

10. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’


A very pretty grass, growing to 1.2m tall, forming compact mounds topped with gorgeously soft, fluffy pink-buff flowerheads in late summer. Plant it in a sunny spot, perhaps alongside spring bulbs that can take centre stage earlier in the year.