Ornamental Grasses for Dynamic Privacy Screens

Every garden has a spot or two that could benefit from some screening – whether it’s for privacy, to make a space feel more intimate or to simply hide an ugly view.  But instead of installing a fence or planting a row of evergreen soldiers, why not consider planting tall ornamental grasses? 

A privacy screen comprised of ornamental grass will not only be beautiful, it will be dynamic. Changing with the seasons, swaying and rustling with even the slightest breeze, not to mention the instant sense of peace and tranquility it will bring to your garden.

When choosing ornamental grasses for a privacy screen, look for tall grasses that tend to have a sturdy, dense, and upright habit.  And remember, your grasses will need to be cut back once a year, preferably in the late winter, so you’ll lose your privacy screen for a few months while the ornamental grasses grow back to their mature height.

Here are a few options to consider for a dynamic privacy screen:  

‘Dallas Blues’ (Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’) has a dense vase-shape making it an ideal choice for screening. This native grass grows to about 6 feet tall and has wide grayish-green foliage and large pink flowers that appear in August making it a real showstopper. ‘Dallas Blues’ tolerates a range of growing conditions, but prefers moist lean soil in full sun.  Hardy in zones 4 – 10.

 
 

Garden of Possibilities - Miscanthus giganteusGiant silver grass (Miscanthus ‘Giganteus’) has arching green foliage that turns shades of orange and red in the fall. Growing to about 10 feet tall, the foliage stands up surprising well to wind, rain and snow. Its flowers appear in late summer are held about 12” above the foliage. Giant silver grass needs full sun and prefers moist fertile soil but tolerates a range of soils. Remember to give giant silver grass lots of room to grow. Hardy in zones 4 – 9. 
 

 

Lord Snowden’s Big Blue (Andropogon gerardii ‘Lord Snowden’s Big Blue’) features thick powdery blue foliage reaching approximately 5’ tall.  This clump-forming native prefers full sun and dry soil but tolerates a site with part sun.  Fall color is a mix of orange, red and tan.  It’s three-pronged seedheads, which look oddly like turkey’s feet, develop in late summer.

There are many, many other ornamental grasses that can be used to create a dynamic privacy screen that changes with the seasons. What’s your favorite?

Note:  A special thank you to Hoffman Nursery for the use of the photos of  Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’ and  Andropogon gerardii ‘Lord Snowden’s Big Blue’.

4 thoughts on “Ornamental Grasses for Dynamic Privacy Screens

  1. Ornamental grass as a privacy screen sounds like a good idea. However, I am struggling with what to do for privacy in fall and winter when the grasses are cut down, or in the spring before they re grow? I suppose one should assume that there is no need or full privacy in fall and winter when outdoor living is restricted.

    • Allan, You’ve picked up on one of the drawbacks of using ornamental grasses for a privacy – at some time during the year you will have to cut them back and then you will be without your screen. I cut my grasses back in the spring and since they grow quite quickly, the screen is back in a month or so. If you absolutely need a privacy screen all year long then ornamental grasses my not be your best bet.

  2. Debbie, I LOVE that Panicum! Those foofy puffs are awesome.

    Allan, I think you hit it on the head – this is probably not for screening your bathroom window, more a visual distraction when seated outdoors.

    • Gen, Foofy puffs are the best part of panicums, at least in my book. I saw a great mass planting of P. Shenandoah today and it was spectacular, even on a cloudy overcast day.

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