Using ornamental grasses in the garden is a great way to add interest, color, and texture, especially in the winter, but at some point, the grass will need to be cut back and pruned.
Like most perennial plants, ornamental grass benefits, in health and appearance, from a two or three inch trim of the previous year’s growth. It is a job that has to be done right and with the right tools in order to guarantee that the plant will make it through the next season and continue growing.
How to Cut and Prune Ornamental Grass
Here are tips to follow when cutting the ornamental grasses in your garden.
Timing is Everything
Every aspect of plant care has something to do with the perfect timing, and the same is true with ornamental grass. Towards the end of fall, grass will die, but ornamental grass can retain its shape and color throughout the winter season so many gardeners leave the new growth as is in order to add to the winter landscape.
If the tall grass and plumes are left intact for winter, the plant will need to be cut back at the very start of winter, prior to any new green growth. If you decide that you do not want to leave the dead grass through the winter months, late fall is the one other time of the year to cut and prune.
Choosing the Right Tools
Not only will the right tools make the job faster and easier, but it can make a difference between a healthy plant and a damaged one. You can use a hand pruner that is sharp enough to cut through the tough fibers of these plants, but with the height and amount of grass you will be cutting something larger is better. For huge clumps of ornamental grass, an electric trimmer or blade is the best way to get the job done.
Best Way to Cut
In order to get the job done well, and with the least amount of cleanup, the first step should be tying the tall grass together to create a bundle. When you do this it is easier to slice through the grass in one quick pass and keeps what is cut out of the way till you get to the rest.
Cut the grass two to three inches from the ground, avoiding any new, green shoots that may already be growing at the beginning of spring. If you are using hand pruners or clippers grab the grass in two to three bunches at a time and clip.
When using an electric hedge trimmer or another power blade, a clean cut right through the bunch, below the tie is best. Whatever you decide to use, avoid multiple cuts along the blades of grass, and do not twist or pull at clumps.
Quick Cleanup and Reuse
If you used a tie to secure the tall grass together, the cleanup will be much faster and easier. With a clean pruning job, you will basically have a bundle of grass that you can place in a lawn refuse bag or add to compost or as a natural ground cover. If you decide to reuse the grass clippings, make sure that you remove and dispose of the tie that you used if it is not compostable.