Cold Hardy Grasses: Choosing Ornamental Grasses For Zone 4 Gardens

zone 4 ornamental grass
zone 4 ornamental grass
(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

What adds sound and movement to the garden as well as a graceful beauty no other class of plants can top? Ornamental grasses! Find out about zone 4 ornamental grasses in this article.

Growing Cold Hardy Grasses

When you visit a nursery in hopes of finding new plants for the garden, you might walk right by the ornamental grasses without a second glance. The little starter plants in the nursery may not look very promising, but cold hardy grasses have much to offer the zone 4 gardener. They come in all sizes, and many have feathery seed heads that sway with the slightest breeze, giving your garden a graceful movement and rustling sound. Decorative grasses in cold climates provide essential wildlife habitat. Inviting small mammals and birds into your garden with grasses adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment to the outdoors. If that isn’t enough reason to plant grasses, consider that they are naturally pest and disease resistant and require very little maintenance.

Ornamental Grasses for Zone 4

When choosing an ornamental grass, pay attention to the mature size of the plant. It can take as much as three years for grasses to mature but leave them plenty of room to reach their full potential. Here are some of the most popular types. These grasses are easy to find. Miscanthus is a large and varied group of grasses. Three of the popular, silvery-colored forms are:

  • Japanese silver grass, 4 to 8 feet (1-2 m.) tall, combines well with a water feature.
  • Flame grass, 4 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) tall, has beautiful orange fall color.
  • Silver feather grass, 6 to 8 feet (2 m.) tall, features silvery plumes.

All perform well as specimen plants or in mass plantings. Japanese golden forest grass grows to a height of about 2 feet (61 cm.), and it has an ability that most grasses lack. It can grow in the shade. The variegated green and gold leaves brighten up shady nooks. Blue fescue forms a neat little mound about 10 inches (25 cm.) tall and 12 inches (31 cm.) wide. These stiff mounds of grass make a nice border for a sunny sidewalk or flower garden. Switchgrasses grow 4 to 6 feet (1-2 m.) tall, depending on the variety. The ‘Northwind’ variety is a pretty blue-hued grass that makes a nice focal point or specimen plant. It attracts birds to the garden. ‘Dewey Blue’ is a good choice for coastal environments. Purple moor grass is a lovely plant with plumes on stems that rise high above the tufts of grass. It grows about 5 feet (1.5 m.) tall and has excellent fall color.

Jackie Carroll

Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.