How important is it to use our South African grasses in creating sustainable landscaping? I have been writing about this inclusion in my previous blogs.
Grass plays an essential role in nature, especially as a source of food, but also to provide shelter and nesting material.
There are also many food chains that eminate from growing grasses in the landscape and it’s usually the animal and bird life at the bottom of the food chain that utilizes grasses. Some of the important additives to growing grasses: – Our grazers many antelope species enjoy the grass grazing including Spring hares, rats, eating the grass seeds together with Mongoose and other rodents that will eat the nutritious part of the grass. Birds are also big grass seed eaters and are regularly seen in building their nests with grass and seed distribution. Our insect population also use our grass for food and shelter and the good and the bad are then brought into the landscape, which then creates a strong ecological balance in the garden.
If you look carefully at the structure of most grass plants – they are fascinating in their different formations in terms of structure and design ability, and also when combining with your indigenous and exotic shrub choices within a landscape, thus transforming the design into an unusual and interesting landscape planting pallette.
Here in South Africa we have grasses that will become the soldiers within the space and combine well with most planting choices including understory planting, shrub and tree coverage. They take well to discipline in terms of cutback and creating effective hedging. They are easily propagated. The bird and insect population, do a lot in terms of repopulation of grasses.
My favourite grasses in the landscape are the Eragrostis species, which are very pretty in terms of movement in the landscape. Together with the Panicum species, which I really enjoy too in combination. The species within the Aristida range are also very interesting, quite delicate within the landscape and lots of colour in their flowers. The Setaria species called a brittle grass is beautiful, generally with dark green leaves and bring in a strong boldness used in the landscape.
Generally all species of grass grown in South Africa can be used ornamentally in the landscape and this is what is exciting as new grass seeds will be brought in by your predators, insect and bird population. Grasses too are very adaptable in terms of the maturity of the landscape and providing that there is enough growing light, your grass growing population will complement the landscape design that you have planned.
Either grasses used in
sways and sweeps in commercial and industrial landscaping is excellent in coverage or utilising your grass species randomly through your planting, providing of course that it combines well with choices of complementary planting and this brings in a very interesting uniqueness to the design.
I thoroughly recommend using endemic grasses within the landscape and utilising these plants in filling spaces as they bring a lot of movement into the landscape. Allow your grass to flower as the seeds can then be redistributed. See accompanying pictures. We promote this in terms of the new landscaping methodology both here in this county and abroad.
Regular training in terms of staff understanding and how to work with grasses is offered by our consulting expertise.
Please contact us on and a lot more detail is available on the website for your info. Any queries please contact us on the email address above or visit our website with comments greatly appreciated.
Landscape Design Consultants International is owned and managed by Jo-Anne Hilliar, a professionally trained Landscape Designer who qualified with a Garden and Landscape Design Diploma through the University of Natal in 1990. In 2005 the company shifted its operational focus to offer landscape design consulting expertise in managing, overseeing and auditing expansive commercial, industrial and environmental sites in South Africa and internationally. Jo-Anne established the Landscape Design School in 2001. Read more…