Planting Acers with ornamental grasses

Discussion in 'Maples' started by brierphoto, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. brierphoto

    brierphoto Active Member

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    I am in the process of designing my garden in the back half of my yard, and I could use some suggestions in how to integrate a couple of my maple trees.

    It will be an integrated vegetable garden with raised beds, and a few free-range chickens. I want to plant a few of my larger non-dwarf trees (Red Pygmy, Beni Shichihenge) that are currently in pots, and I'd also really like to incorporate some tall ornamental grasses. Should I really try to separate these two, or would it be ok to "layer" the grasses in front of the maples & stick the maples around the perimeter?

    I know this is likely a strange question... I have no landscape experience and really don't want this to end up looking completely weird. Any example photos would be helpful! :)
     
  2. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    That’s a great question that I get quite often with the growing popularity of ornamental grasses. Japanese maples can exist in a garden with ornamental grasses, but great care and planning should be done to ensure that they never grow together and compete with one another. Once planted, you need to give your maples plenty of room and keep up with the constant maintenance of keeping the grass under control. My concern is that many grasses can have an aggressive root system. Japanese maples are not good at winning competitions and they will lose a battle against ornamental grass when competing for water and nutrients. Additionally, the roots of the grass can weave their way in with your Japanese maples root system and you may lose your trees if you ever decide to try and move the grass or trees. You can get into a situation that your trees are on decline because they can’t compete, but you have to stand by and watch the decline of your Japanese maples, because you can’t move them or the grass without destroying the root system of your maples.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Main potential I see is planting grasses with autumn interest to be viewed with the maples behind, their red fall color providing a contrast to the palish stalks and plumes of the maturing grasses.
     
  4. brierphoto

    brierphoto Active Member

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    Thank you both very much for the information!
     
  5. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I've tried that in my garden. The problem is that most ornamental grasses require full sun and, quickly, they are shaded by the maples. I have fallen back to using only shade-loving ornamental grasses.

    Gomero
     
  6. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I've tried that in my garden. The problem is that most ornamental grasses require full sun and, quickly, they are shaded by the maples. I have fallen back to using only shade-loving ornamental grasses.

    Gomero
     
  7. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    Can Gomero (or anyone) give some examples of shade loving ornamental grasses that have "played nice" with your JMs?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  8. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi paxi,

    I have successfully used (and am using): Hakonechloa, Dactylis, Chasmanthium, Carex, Arrhenatherum, Luzula, Phalaris, Milium; They are all shade compatible growers.

    Gomero
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The sun grasses would be seen in the open with the maples behind, far enough behind to not overtop them.
     
  10. Squeezied

    Squeezied Active Member

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    On the topic of companion plants, would planting spring bulbs be more suitable than ornamental grasses?

    cold wet seasons: root growth, excess moisture absorbed
    hot dry seasons: roots die back, limited moisture preserved

    So if I'm correct, would spring bulbs actually aid in regulating moisture for JMs?
     

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