Grasses, Sedges, and Shrubs for Landscaping
Prairie dropseed | Sporobolus heterolepis
Prairie dropseed forms dense mounds of narrow, rich green, fountain-shaped foliage.
- Mature height, 12 inches (flowering stems 2–3 feet); spread, 36 inches
- Plant 2 feet apart in full sun for a good, medium-height groundcover
- Has a distinctive odor when it blooms in September
- Difficult to establish by direct seeding, so plant plugs instead
Little bluestem | Schizachyrium scoparium
This clump-forming, blue-green grass is perfect for creating a prairie patch in the landscape.
- Mature height, 24–26 inches; spread, 12 inches
- Turns a rich russet color in the fall
- Stands erect throughout the winter, providing texture in the garden and cover for wildlife.
Tussock sedge | Carex stricta
This sedge has dense mounds of narrow, rich green, fountain-shaped foliage similar to prairie dropseed.
- Mature height, 12–18 inches; spread, 18–30 inches
- Needs moist soil conditions
- Great for water gardens, rain gardens, swales, and pond edges
- Provides cover and nest sites for birds.
Rusty black haw | Viburnum rufidulum
With glossy green, leathery leaves, rusty black haw can be grown as a shrub or pruned to form a small tree.
- Flowers: March–April
- Mature height, 10–15 feet; spread, 5–10 feet
- Clusters of blue-black fruit appear in September (perfect timing for migratory birds)
- Leaves turn rich burgundy as days shorten
Spice bush | Lindera benzoin
A broad, rounded, multi-stemmed shrub, spice bush is a host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
- Flowers: Late March–April
- Mature height, 9–15 feet; spread, 6–10 feet
- Covered with fragrant yellow-green flowers in early spring
- Aromatic leaves turn deep yellow-gold in fall
- Red berries appear in late summer