Zebra grass and garden design

(Question)

Wondering about how invasive Zebra grass is in the garden.

Also, question about garden design principals.

(Answer)

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) and how to avoid a contrived looking garden.

Miscanthus cultivars are often the #1 choice of ornamental grass at garden centres. There are many different varieties: some seem to clump quite well, others seem to run through a garden bed and become a nuisance. They can be tall and strappy or form tight mounds of fine, raspy foliage. They all have thick, strong, mat-forming rhizomatous roots, which makes them a breeze to share with others or move to another part of the garden. Miscanthus are typically tough and adaptable, accepting all kinds of growing conditions, practically nothing knocks them back except perhaps overcrowding or deep shade. They typically creep out from the centre of origin and may need periodic renewal through division and removal of old unproductive/dead parts. Some, such as M. x giganteus achieve enormous stature (akin to bamboo), and could be used for privacy or screening, but their bottoms do tend to look a little bare. Miscanthus x giganteus is one of the only varieties that does not set viable seed, and so it is a more suitable choice if you wish to avoid perpetuating a potentially invasive species out into natural grasslands.

See: https://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/plants-terrestrial/miscanthus/

Garden design has a lot to do with personal aesthetic. Some people find a symmetrical, evenly placed planting calm and orderly, whereas others prefer a more naturalistic look. If a symmetrical planting is a look you wish to avoid, follow the lead of nature. Plant loose, unevenly numbered groupings of one type of plant (some people like triangles) and avoid rows or isolated singly spaced plants (unless they are large). You can achieve balance and harmony, while also creating interest by choosing plants with similar visual weight /colours, but a contrasting leaf shape or form (the plants overall shape or structure: mounding, vase shaped, columnar..). You could disrupt the symmetry of a single Japanese maple in the centre of a long narrow bed  by mixing up the plantings on either side. A couple of large grasses such as Zebra grass could be featured on one side, a large cluster of x-large hostas or a plant like ornamental rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) on the other, with the addition of some smaller clump-forming grass like tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) or sedges to bridge the two sides. Groundcovers that marry elements together (and echo the shape and colour of the larger plants) would also be a nice addition, such as mukdenia, bergenia, heuchera, wild ginger (Asarum canadense), epimedium, barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides), etc. Miniature evergreens, such as a carpet Juniper, or interstitial peonies would also be visually pleasing. In this way you create interest but maintain simplicity by emphasizing leaf types, keeping the flowering elements to a minimum, allowing the maple to still remain a star of this garden bed. Just make sure that you are aware of the growing conditions of the site you are planting into (part shade, full sun), before making any firm plans.

For more info on designing your garden, see: https://www.finegardening.com/2-ways-design-bold-gardens