Bentgrass. Bermuda. Zoysia. Poa.
These are names most golfers recognize because they are turf grasses — good for fairways, greens and lawns.
But the world of grass is vast and varied, extending far beyond the stuff we mow and water to impress our neighbors, and to keep our putts running fast and pure.
The world of grass also includes “ornamental grasses,” and as the term suggests, their main purpose isn’t playability.
It’s visual appeal.
Many of these grasses are hardy and low-maintenance, requiring little effort to keep them looking good. They also come in a wonderland of sizes, colors and textures.
David Phipps is a former superintendent who now serves as Northwest regional representative for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Here are 4 grass types that he says work as beautifully in yards as they do on courses — unless you’re hoping for a perfect lie.
Japanese Forest Grass
Lime-green in color, like some ’70s slacks, this elegant grass is the rare ornamental that thrives in the shade. Slow-growing and non-invasive, with slender leaves, it maxes out at a height of around 2 feet, making for pretty ground cover that knows its place. It’s best planted in the cool of fall, not the heat of summer.
Tall and striking, Pampas grass gives rise to a silvery-white plumes that call to mind the hue and texture of John Daly’s beard. Like a lot of ornamentals, it grows easily, which is plus, provided that you don’t let it get out of control.
Often thought of as a prairie grass, bluestem has a wider range than that, extending across the eastern two thirds of the United States. With its purplish tint, it is easy on the eyes, but its fibrous texture can make it tough if you’re hunting for your ProV1.
Not to be confused with the fine fescue of the links, this azure-tinged bunch grass is not the sort of plant you’d want to whack a ball from. Although it can survive in the shade, it thrives in sun-splashed conditions, where it produces pale yellow flowers that contrast sweetly with its blueish leaves. No wonder it makes for popular landscaping around courses and homes alike.