As homeowners begin to think about their gardens and landscapes, the problem of deer in Central and North Jersey are giving them pause about what to plant. CLC Landscape Design, Inc., the family-owned and operated landscape architecture firm located in Ringwood, N.J., is recommending the use of ornamental grasses because they are reliably deer-resistant, low-maintenance, inexpensive, and provide multiple seasons of beauty.

For the past few years, ornamental grasses have become increasingly popular and this season, they are more popular than ever. "More than three-quarters of the homeowners we are serving are requesting ornamental grasses to be included in their plant lists," said Rich Cording, Jr., planting designer for and co-owner of CLC Landscape Design. "Our portfolio shows many landscapes, both front yards and backyards, which utilize the beauty of ornamental grasses."

Cording refers to the ornamental grasses as "super plants" because even in the worst deer-populated areas of New Jersey, they are reliably deer-resistant: "One of the easiest ways to avoid deer damage is to use plants that have proved deer- resistant in the worst areas of the state, such as ornamental grasses." In addition, they are exceptionally low maintenance plants, requiring pruning only one time per year. Generally speaking, ornamental grasses are easy to establish and perform well in a wide range of soils; further, they do not necessarily require an irrigation system because they are vigorous growers. Also, ornamental grasses are an excellent way to control erosion on slopes because, when planted in mass, they will fill in to cover the slope. Best of all they offer a long season of interest and look good all winter long.

While there are many varieties to choose from, Cording shared his three favorites:

• 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass. This reed grass is a vertical masterpiece and provides wonderful contrast among low shrubs and perennials. It flowers from August to March and has a distinct upright habit that makes it ideal for narrow spaces. This grass matures at 3'-5' tall by 1'-2' wide.

• 'Karley Rose' Fountain Grass. Delightful fluffy rose pink flowers begin to appear in July and continue through into fall. The fuzzy flowers are suspended above the plant and will gently sway back and forth in the slightest breeze. This grass matures at 3'-4' tall by 2'-3' wide.

• Hakone Grass. One of very few plants that have colorful foliage even in the shade. Leaves are colored bright yellow from spring to fall and then turn tan color in the winter. This grass matures at 15" tall by 24" wide.

"Ornamental grasses are excellent for borders and mixed-beds, and are ideal for pool-scapes, a specialty of ours." says Cording. "Interestingly, some of the grasses have an architectural habit and work well with modern designs, while others have a more wild habit and lend themselves to naturalistic designs," Cording added.

CLC Landscape Design, Inc., located in Northern New Jersey, is a family-owned and operated landscape architectural firm that specializes in residential design. Established in 1973, CLC was started by Rich Cording, Sr., a licensed landscape architect and is now co-managed by Cording, Sr. and his son, Rich Cording, Jr. who holds a masters degree from Columbia University in landscape design. With more than 37 years' of landscape design experience, the more than 30 CLC employees, who are professional and knowledgeable leaders in their field, design, install and maintain landscapes that inspire, relax and transcend. Known for their accomplished environmentally-conscious designs, as well as superior customer relation skills, CLC specializes in designing swimming pools. CLC Landscape Design serves clients in the tri-state area including Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Rockland Counties. CLC Landscape Design is located at 58 Ringwood Rd., Ringwood, N.J., 07456; O: 973.839.6026. For more information please visit www.CLCdesign.com.