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Easy Garden Design with Drought Proof Plants

Few plant varieties create big impact in this sun loving perennial border

Here’s a simple and EASY Garden Design idea using sun loving drought proof plants that look attractive throughout the growing season.

This garden landscape uses only a few type of plants.  Ornamental Grasses (Miscanthus) create a hedge effect by add height and interest in the background. Sedum Autumn Joy provides midsize interest while the bed is edged in ground cover Sedum.

This island bed requires low water and little maintenance while creating a welcoming entryway and some privacy from a busy and noisy road.

By late summer, Autumn Joy Sedum will be bursting with color while the ornamental grasses develop showy plumes that last well into fall.  Both plants add wonderful interest to the winter garden.

Related ArticlesOur Top 10 Long Blooming Sun Perennials

10 Expert Gardening Tips on Growing Hakonechloa – The Most Elegant Shade Groundcover Ever!

Hakonechloa Aureola - the most elegant shade groundcover ever!

Hakonechloa produces a gorgeous mound of narrow, arching leaves  that is useful for bringing bright color to the shade garden. It has a graceful, almost tropical like habit and is considered by some to be one of the most stunning groundcovers for the shade garden. Two of the more popular varieties include  bright gold leaf All Gold and Aureola which has gold leaves with stripes of bright green.

I’ve known gardeners that have been  successful with growing Hakonechloa and others who struggle growing this shade loving groundcover.  Essentially, this is a slow growing shade perennial that takes more than a couple of years to become mature.

Design Tips

Hakonechloa works well in so many shade settings as a foliage plant. Use it singly, in containers, or mass as a ground cover in front of a shady border.  For inspiring design ideas & photography check out  Design Ideas with Hakonechloa –Elegant Shade Ground Cover. Since you get 3 seasons of foliage color it combines terrific with various colors of Heuchera.

1o Tips on Growing the most beautiful Hakonechloa ever!

1)     Soil. It thrives in a rich, somewhat acidic soil in well drained site. If you give them average soil, they will be small to average in size.

2)     Planting. Dig a hole 3 times the height & width of your container and fill in with good organic matter.  Take the time to do this because it will make a difference

3)    Exposure. Full sun to part shade.  Hakonechloa grows well in full sun (in the north anyway) Protect from the hot afternoon sun.

4)    Water. Hakonechloa require lots of moisture. Water frequently the first year. If you have an irrigation system – terrific.

5)    Keep away from tree roots. Best to plant near but not directly under trees or large shrubs. Depending on the type, tree & shrub roots are moisture & nutrient robbers.  Plants often will stay small and often struggle if competing with neighboring roots.

6)    Keep roots cool. Plant in a location where they will receive shade during the hottest part of the day.   Use 3” of mulch after planting to keep roots cool until plants become established.

7)   Feeding. Use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote according to package directions.

8)    Don’t cut back in the fall. If you are in a northern climate, wait until spring to either cut back or rake away previous year’s growth.

9)    Winter protection. My friend, Barb is a landscape designer in Minnesota (Zone 4) and use LOTS of Hakonechloa is in her garden design.  She uses pine boughs as a winter mulch. She has always been successful overwintering these plants.

10)   Planting & Spacing. I’ll often space Hakonechloa closer than other groundcovers (8-10” apart).  That way they fill in faster.  Plant in the spring so roots can establish themselves and be patient.

Container Growing

My friend Jayne, grows Hakonechloa in containers in her Zone 4 garden.  Here are her tips for container growing:

  • Use drip irrigation  (keeps the plants  evenly moist)
  • Slow Release liquid feed
  • Replace soil every 2 years
  • Bury the pots & cover with pine boughs for the winter

Growing Hakonechloa is a bit like reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  It is a bit of an undertaking, but don’t  let these proven  growing tips intimidate you from growing this magnificent shade loving groundcover in your perennial garden.

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Design Ideas with Hakonechloa – Elegant Shade Ground Cover

The leaves of Hakonechloa fall nicely in one direction along this shaded pathway

My friend Jayne is gardener in Minnesota  (Zone 4) who has been in LOVE with Hakonechloa and growing it as a shade ground cover for  as long as I can remember. There are few grasses that are both deer proof & elegant yet impart an exotic, almost bamboo look that provides up to 9 months of interest!  The two varieties that we are both pretty fond of are Aureola & All Gold which do a bang up job livening up any shade garden. There is a new variety called Fubuki which I’m anxious to try this year.

Adding blue pottery creates maximum contrast & energy in this small space

Line a Shaded Pathway.  Use Hakone grass along a shaded pathway where  their leaves fall in one direction.  The above picture shows a pleasing shade perennial combination with dark foliage  Actaea or Cimicifuga.

Create Contrast! The narrow foliage of Hakonechloa with the bold, rounded foliage of Hosta makes this combination interesting!

Add blue! Put some quick finishing touches to your garden design by adding blue pottery placed next to your plants.

Create Contrast! The narrow foliage combines elegantly with the bold, rounded foliage of Hostas.

Raise it! This gardener raised this container - to better appreciate the arching leaves!

Raise It! Elevate your containers on the shaded patio or garden where you can appreciate the cascading foliage.

Shaded Entryway.  Place Hakonechloa pots along a shaded patio entryway. This softens the entryway in addition to being more welcoming to guests.

Hakonechloa is a wonderful shade plant to add to the garden. I hope you  enjoyed a few garden design ideas. I’m anxious to hear about yours!

Garden Tip:  Hakonechloa will have a brighter appearance if it receives some morning or filtered sun.

We’ve got more valuable garden tips on how to have success growing Hakonechloa coming next!

The cascading foliage looks elegant & softens this patio entryway

Miscanthus as a Hedge Plant

Here’s a beautiful setting of Miscanthus gracillimus used as a hedge plant between two residential homes.   This clump forming  ornamental grass provides an elegant look in this landscape and an ideal natural fence along this property.

Miscanthus makes an excellent hedge plant

Miscanthus produces showy copper colored flower plumes in September and brilliant fall gold foliage. This perennial is zone 5 hardy and is both deer resistant & drought proof once established. Make sure to shear back this hedge plant in the spring to about 12” from the ground.  This helps to re-energize the plant for the coming season.

9 Ways to Use Ornamental Grasses You Love

When I first started to garden I was drawn to the drama of fall & winter gardening with ornamental grasses. I began to notice what amazing (and needed) architectural structure that grasses provide while creating mood, providing motion, all the while transitioning in its own way to the next season. This video highlights both practical & fun ways to use ornamental grasses.

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