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Home highlight: ornamental grasses

As part two in our Home Highlight series, I would like to show off this beautifully done water wise garden in Northpark, San Diego. There is so much that is well done here that it is tough to focus down to a single issue. The use of color is fantastic, but since we have already looked at that in a previous listing, I’d like to focus on the integration of ornamental grasses. Many are drought resistant, and they can add a lot of color and movement to a garden.

This garden uses two of my favorites: Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) and Pennisetum setaceum rubrum (Purple Fountain Grass). Here is a closeup of the grasses:

Stipa tenuissima is one of the lightest grasses, so you will see a lot of movement in even a gentle breeze. It works best in mass plantings.

Grasses integrate very well with other drought tolerant plants. Consider cacti and succulents, such as the Agave shown here, or flowering plants like the Kangaroo Paw (I think it is Anigozanthos ‘Bush Ranger’) and Gazania in this garden.

Before we leave this garden, I do have to mention that it also coordinates wonderfully with the house. Notice how the colors (olive green, gold, and burgundy) in the house paint are mirrored in the garden. The effect is very cohesive.

Interested in a waterwise garden of your own? We’d love to help! Please go to and fill in the contact us form.

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at