Pet and Animal-friendly Japanese Forest Grass

This beautiful (and edible) grass is perfect for homeowners with pets

Credit: Carolyn Jones

Q: What could I grow to beautify my cat’s enclosed garden space? I’d like a plant that is safe if he eats it?

While my cat Garfunkel wouldn’t dream of eating a plant, his brother Simon adores Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Auroeola’). Simon whines at the door every evening until he gets to graze a little. My late dog Dylan loved it too. I once tried it to see what the excitement was all about. It tastes okay!

Since your cat’s enclosure is shady, this lovely grass will be happy. Water it regularly and add some organic fertilizer for faster growth. On a breezy day it will sway gently. Forest grass has two disadvantages: it is deciduous, so it has to be cut right back in December. This always makes Simon very grumpy. Plus it is not inexpensive. Gradually it makes a large clump (mine is now a metre across), but it is admittedly slow growing. If your cat likes it too much, the grass might not increase.

Evergreen Sedges

Evergreen Sedges

Simon also enjoys many types of sedges, all of which are evergreen. Notice the brush cut he’s given the potted bronze sedge (Carex testacea) in my small patio garden.

Japanese Forest Grass

Dwarf Japenese Sedge

Also passing muster are dwarf Japanese sedge (Carex conica ‘Hime Kanasugi’/’Snowline’), which has green and white variegation, and the mid-sized golden-variegated sedge Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’. Both are evergreen, so he can nibble all winter. But I think he just dreams of spring and fresh Japanese forest grass shoots to come.