a petite alternative
NORMALLY 2' X 2'
tan flowerheads and seeds in fall
MODERATE WATER (TERRACE ZONE)
FULL SUN to shade
HARDY TO ABOUT 0º F
NEst material for birds AND NATIVE BEES, larval food source for butterflies and moths
Not everyone has the space for the large mounding muhly grasses (on average most get about 4-5' tall and wide). A great alternative to these large plants is the petite pine muhly (Muhlenbergia dubia). This plant tops out at about 2' (with blooms) and spreads about 2' and forms a perfect mound like its larger relatives.
Pine muhly is also pretty tough--it can take full sun (even reflected heat) and can also take shade, though plants in too much shade don't look quite as nice as their sunnier-located counterparts. They are moderate water users, and only require a nice haircut once in a while--in late winter you can cut plants to about an inch or so from the ground to rejuvenate them. But don't do this unless you think they really need it.
As with all muhly grasses, pine muhly is also important as a source for nest material for birds and native bees, and is a larval food plant for several butterfly moth species.