Are they any grasses that don't reseed everywhere?

linlily(z5/6PA)August 5, 2014

I was reading the messages in the 2014 Shovel Chronicles and I was surprised about how much is mentioned about self-seeding grasses. I want to replace two large shrubs in the front of the house - tired of trimming them - with a grass that would get about 3 feet tall at the max. And I don't need to be pulling seedlings the next spring. Is there any hope that I can find such a grass?

I'm grass challenged. The only one I have now and have ever grown is Elijah Blue.


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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Zebra grass. There is a dwarf, gets around the height you're looking for. (I have it, it is a fabulous grass, I want to say the cultivar is "Porcupine", but I can't remember for certain, it is much shorter than the full-size Zebra grass, which I also have and is also fabulous)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:19PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

mxk3 is it "gold bar"? I got it from Santa Rosa a few weeks ago so it's still tiny, but it looks like it will be a winner.
"Karl Foerster" feather reed grass is my favorite. It's a little taller than you may want, but easy to work with (cut back, divide, remove). It's sterile too so seedlings will not be a problem.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:49PM
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My dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln') has been in the ground for 8+ years and has never self-seeded. It forms an elegant mound every year with dainty plumes. It grows to about 26" tall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dwarf fountain grass

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:50AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

My current favorite is Helictotrichon sempervirens, aka blue oat grass. It's 2-3 feet tall with a steely blue color and it's overall shape is a sphere. We have them in containers too. No seeding at all.

I agree with Kato that 'Karl Foerster' is excellent too. It's shape is strongly upright, like a column. Sometimes that's an asset, sometimes not, it depends how you're using it.

I'm smitten with 'Aureola' Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra) which doesn't fit your criteria at all but I'm at that stage where it seems to be the solution to all my garden problems at the moment. :)

My worst self seeders were blue fescues. Those were the grasses I really had to get after to remove. Especially when they seed themselves right in the crown of other plants, ugh!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:26AM
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I have a lot of ornamental grasses in my yard because they are one of the few plants that deer won't eat. I have had very few problems with reseeding from blue fescue, "Morning Light" and other named varieties of Miscanthus, prairie dropseed, Hakone grass, fountain grass. On the other hand, I've got River Oats coming up all over my yard from a few that I planted a while back. Miscanthus seedlings occasionally pop up but are not hard to control. The biggest issue is that some Miscanthus varieties get quite large and it can be a real chore trying to dig them up or divide them.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:30AM
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You guys are great. I will now look these all up and see what they look like.

We were having dinner at a small restaurant in Ohio yesterday and whoever does the landscaping at the small strip shopping center where the restaurant is does a wonderful job. They incorporated several grasses in with shrubs and perennials. I have no idea which grasses they use since they don't have markers near the plants but the effect is lovely. They use some interesting perennial/annual combinations too that I like to use for ideas! Thank you all so much,

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:07AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

"Hameln" fountain grass reseeds rather heavily for me. Chasmanthium (aka wild oats) is horrible in terms of reseeding - don't even think about it if you don't want to deal with that (I love the plant form, so I put up with it).

No, Gold Bar doesn't ring a bell. I looked up the grass I have in the catalog from the local nursery, and it is Porcupine grass, not Zebra grass. They look the same to me (green with yellow bars) but the Porcupine grass is between 3-4' tall, while the Zebra grass is at least 7', if not a bit taller, and the blades of the Porcupine grass arch whereas the Zebra grass is stiffly upright.

Here are some pics as a comparison. They are older pics, but the grasses were mature at the time (and are still there):

Porcupine grass: Note the Endless Summer hydrangea to the left and the air conditioning unit next to the grass/behind the hydrangea as points of comparison (I put the grass here originally to hide the AC unit)

Another shot of the Porcupine grass. Different year, the BB bush wasn't in the bed during this particular year but you can seen a Caryopteris right next to it as a height comparison.

Zebra grass: These were put here to screen our patio from passerby on the street, as we don't have fences in our neighborhood. Because it is so tall and dense, it does the intended job beautifully.

View from the patio side. As a height comparison, the rugosa rose next to the grass is a mature Wildberry Breeze.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:30AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I don't know why I have never tried the blue oat grass, I really need to give that one a try since the blue fescue I have right now dies out, or grows lopsided, or plain old dies if it gets a little competition or doesn't get divided frequently.
I see the difference between the porcupine and zebra. They seem to fit in perfectly where they are and nice pictures! I wonder if they're not switched though, seems the porcupine grass would be the spikier upright one.... God bar is a porcupine type, just shorter at 3-4 feet.
I shovel pruned my fountain grass (pennesitum) last spring due to reseeding. I think the real dwarf ones don't seed as much (like little bunny) but the bigger ones are awful even though I love the look. 'Moudry' is one I would never plant again.
One pennesitum that is sterile is "Karley Rose". Real nice, around three feet, but a little floppy when wet. Mine made it through last winter just fine (-10low) which surprised me since it's less hardy than the other ones.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:14PM
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