I love the look of ornamental grasses, especially in late summer and into fall when the plumes develop. When the sun hits them the right way they’re glorious!
However, most ornamental grasses with lovely plumes are quite large. My garden is small. This means that the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ growing in my front yard has to be tied back, or it will swallow the rest of my garden (and make life difficult for the letter carrier who has to get into my mailbox every day.) This is the ‘before’ picture:
This is really how big grasses are supposed to look–wild and loose and gorgeous. My goal is to tie them back in a way that retains this look, as much as possible. If you put a big stick in the ground and then grab a rope and cinch it in tight like a too tight belt on someone’s waist you ruin the look of the grasses. Sure, the plumes will still sway in the breeze a little, but the overall look is lost.
How To Tie Up Grasses
My first step is to place three or four tall pieces of bamboo around the perimeter of the grasses–this will give a more natural look than using just one stick.
Next, I take a long piece of garden twine and wrap it around the grass just below where the blades of grass naturally bend over, taking care to work the twine under the flopping over parts of the grass. My focus is on tying up is the stalk and Ieaving the looser parts draping over the twine. I am also careful not to cinch the twine any tighter than I absolutely need too–I’m trying to provide a structure within which the grass can still move, not tie it up so tight it’s completely immobile.
The photo on the left shows what it looks like when I’ve first tied the twine around the stakes. The photo on the right was taken after I worked the bamboo stake back into the grasses–I just shook everything together for a few seconds until the stake was more integrated into the stalks. It’s a small thing but it makes the stake less obvious.
Next, I trim the parts of the stake that are sticking up into the plumes. In the following photos you’ll see what a difference that makes:
And this is the end result:
Note: In order to have you see what I was doing, I used natural coloured bamboo and twine, and it looks ok. But to really make the stakes and twine disappear I would have used use green coloured bamboo sticks or stakes and green twine*.
If I had a big garden I would definitely leave the grasses loose. But if you, like me, need to restrain your grasses, I hope this post has given you some idea of how to do it as unobtrusively as possible.
Gardeners with small spaces can grow big plants, we just have to get really good at tying them up nicely!
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