Switchgrass Switching Places, Again
And now for the saga of the nomadic Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Today I dug out a slice of turf along a corner of the Sidewalk Border in order to create a sunny spot for said switchgrass, which had already been moved once.
Digging up grass is one of my favorite garden chores. I use an edger to cut small slices of turf, then pick up each slice and shake out the soil, throwing the grass itself onto a pile which ultimately ends up buried in the compost. This process is extremely satisfying, especially crumbling the clods of earth as they fall away from the turf roots.
Anyhow, the Switchgrass had to be moved both times because it was being shaded by neighboring perennials. This may sound unlikely given that Switchgrass grows four to six feet tall.
The problem is that Switchgrass is a warm season grass, staying dormant until around the end of May. Many other perennials have already achieved substantial height by then. The result is that in the back of even a sunny border the Switchgrass never catches up with its neighbors to get the full sun it wants. And so it goes into a slow decline.
There were no good existing spots for transplanting this substantial grass, and I hated the idea of throwing them on the compost – so expanding one of the borders seemed like the natural solution.
Like other gardening rules, the rule of thumb that tall plants go in the back of the border doesn’t always work. Tall plants that emerge late (like Switchgrass) may languish at the back of the border, depending on what’s growing around it.
I’m fairly confident that these two Switchgrass plants will like their new home. They are still at the back of a border, yes, but the back of this border faces south along a grassy path. Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) grow between the new Switchgrass and the sidewalk.
My hope is that as it expands the upright Switchgrass will hold up the floppier Northern Sea Oats.
Do you always put tall plants at the back of the border?