How to Prune Ornamental Grass in 5 Easy Steps

Decorative grass is typically underrated within the gardening world, however as climates shift, they’ve earned their hold amongst gardeners and landscapers. They’re workhorses that add luscious visible curiosity, airiness, and peak required to have a textually attention-grabbing and dynamic backyard. Plus, decorative grasses are very low-maintenance and simple to prune.

Some varieties type cute little clumps, whereas others get tall sufficient to function extremely efficient privateness fences. When cared for correctly, perennial grasses return 12 months after 12 months, requiring little or no from you, and most are drought-resistant as soon as established as well. 

Prune your grasses yearly with just some provides. Relying on the peak and sort of your grass, you’ll want sharp shears, pruning scissors, hedge trimmers, or a weed-whacker. Twine or rope is optionally available. It retains your grass bunched collectively when you prune, and the entire course of takes little or no time.

Let’s get into tips on how to correctly prune your decorative grasses to maintain them wholesome and productive for seasons to come back. 

Step 1: Establish the Selection 

When and tips on how to prune decorative grasses relies on the kind and selection. It’s essential to know what you’re coping with so you may prune correctly. It’s additionally just a little bit of private choice. There are three distinct sorts that each one have completely different pruning necessities.

Three Varieties of Decorative Grasses

Correct pruning begins with figuring out your decorative grass as a sedge, warm-season grass, or cool-season grass.

Evergreen Sedges

Usually mistaken for grass, sedges belong to the Sedge and Carex households, providing versatility in heat and funky climate.

These seem like and are sometimes mistaken for grass, however they’re not categorised as such. Quite, they’re within the Sedge (Cyperaceae) household of grasslike herbaceous crops. They’re primarily evergreen and versatile for heat or cool climate. The simplest solution to decipher sedges from grasses is with this poetic pneumonic:

Sedges have edges,

Rushes are spherical

Grasses have nodes from their tricks to the bottom.

In different phrases, the leaves of sedges are stable and three-sided. They don’t have any joints alongside the stem.

Heat-Season Grasses

Close-up of Pampas Grass in a sunny garden. Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) presents an eye-catching appearance with its large, feathery plumes that rise high above its robust clumps of arching foliage. The slender cream-colored plumes resemble fluffy plumes. The long, sharp-edged leaves form dense tussocks at the base, creating a fountain-like effect.
Pampas grass is a warm-season decorative grass with feathery plumes that add a textural factor to landscapes.

True grasses are members of the Poaceae household. Heat-weather grasses are generally referred to as “southern grasses.” These grasses lay dormant till late summer season, when their flowering begins. If left un-pruned, you might acknowledge these as straw-like, brown, or dead-looking blades all through the winter months.

Southern grasses develop as much as 15 ft in peak. ‘Pampas Grass’ is a well-liked semi-evergreen grass beloved for its fluffy look and long-lasting blooms. However in lots of areas, reminiscent of California, pampas grass will be tremendous invasive. Because of this, it’s essential to plant a sterile seedless selection.

Notice that some heat and cool-season grasses are semi-evergreen, which means they hold their shade and don’t go totally dormant in winter, the place temperatures stay delicate. Make sure you totally analysis your selection to learn the way greatest to look after it. 

Cool-Season Grasses

Close-up of many tufts of Blue Fescue ornamental grass in a flower bed. Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) presents a distinctive and compact appearance with its fine, wiry leaves that form dense tufts. The foliage is characterized by an attractive blue-gray color.
Blue fescue, a cool-season decorative grass, options compact, blue-green tufts, offering a hanging accent in backyard landscapes.

These grasses develop in spring and fall when the temperatures are delicate and the soil is moist. Flowering begins in June in most areas. They mature shortly, and their progress slows or halts in peak summer season.

Cool-season grasses are brief, normally maturing at nearly eight to 10 inches. Nevertheless, an outlier on this class is ‘Feather Reed Grass’ (Calamagrostis), which may develop to be 5 ft in peak. Tufted Hair Grass’ is a good cool-season, semi-evergreen possibility for containers, city gardens, and small areas, whereas ‘Big Feather Grass’ is a lightweight, tall, and ethereal possibility that prefers delicate situations all 12 months lengthy. 

‘Blue Fescue’ (brief) and ‘Karl Foerster Grass’ (tall) are well-liked cool-season grasses in northern landscapes. 

Step 2: Get the Timing Proper

Close-up of Miscanthus grass in a winter snow-covered garden. The tall, slender stems stand as golden-brown, structural elements in the landscape. The feathery plumes have faded, creating a delicate, ethereal quality. The remaining foliage, often a mix of tan and silver, forms a textured and graceful silhouette.
Delay pruning till late winter or spring for advantages like insulation, wildlife habitat, and plant rejuvenation.

Some growers don’t favor the look of tall, floppy grasses of their winter backyard, in order that they lower them down within the fall after flowering. In northern zones, perennial grasses go dormant throughout the coldest a part of winter, leaving dried seed heads and fallen leaves.

Nevertheless, don’t underestimate their capability to beautify an area in chilly areas. The shorter, spiky varieties look attention-grabbing and add a cool aptitude to a backyard even after a lightweight snowfall. 

Listed below are some advantages of ready to prune till spring:

  • In colder rising zones, the drooped grass insulates the susceptible crown of the plant.
  • Seed heads function a meals supply for a variety of wildlife within the useless of winter when it’s essential and arduous to come back by.
  • Deer and small critters could use tall grasses as a resting, hiding, or bedding space.
  • Should you prune too early in fall, and expertise a sudden spike in temperatures, crops could also be triggered to ship up new progress that’s wasted vitality when heading into winter.
  • Heavy pruning in late spring freshens up your plant, ridding it of any injury that harsh winter climate or excessive summer season warmth precipitated and encourages new progress.

Wait till late winter or early spring to prune until you reside in a very dry and windy space the place useless leaves and branches are a fireplace hazard. Dried leaves and brush burn extraordinarily simply and will be harmful if left within the backyard. 

Primarily based on the kind of grass, comply with the advisable timing for pruning:

Most evergreen decorative sedges don’t require pruning as a result of they mature at a brief peak and stay brief, though trimming away occasional useless or brown leaves will hold them wanting tidy. This may be completed at any time of 12 months. Reduce not more than a 3rd of the plant.

Prune warm-season grasses in late fall or mid-late spring. The proper cold-hardy grasses present your backyard with seasonal curiosity and will be left as-is till spring.

Prune these in late winter or early spring. This offers you the good thing about crown safety by way of the winter and assist jumpstart new progress in spring.

Step 3: Bundle ‘Em Up

Close-up of tied bunches of Miscanthus sinensis grass in the winter garden. Miscanthus sinensis boasts its tan to golden-brown feathery plumes and delicate, arching blades.
Optionally tie up warm-season grasses earlier than pruning for management and an excellent lower line.

This step is optionally available and can principally be used when pruning warm-season grasses, merely as a result of their peak. Should you develop cool-season grasses that stay brief, you may skip to Step 4. 

Tying up your grass offers you a bit extra management and enable you get a pleasant, even lower line. Consider it like placing hair right into a ponytail earlier than chopping it off. The elastic band is used as a lower information. Optionally, use twine or heavy rope, relying in your grass kind and measurement. You could have to tie the grass up in a number of locations if it’s very tall. This additionally means that you can comply with the pure form of the plant as you prune. New progress follows this form, requiring much less upkeep all through the rising season. 

If slicing or hedge-trimming, bunch the grass collectively and tie twine or rope round it tightly, 4 to eight inches from the bottom. Weed-whacking is likely to be just a little harder to manage the form of the prune with this methodology, however you may return and repair up the form afterward. Don’t go too low, or you might tangle the twine up in your machine. 

Professional tip: Some grasses have sharp edges and may slice your palms when dealt with bare-handed, so thick leather-based gloves and lengthy sleeves are good safety.

Step 4: Reduce ‘Em Down 

Pruning of the Miscanthus ornamental grasses in the spring garden. Close-up of a gardener's hands in white gloves trimming dry stems of ornamental grass using green pruning shears. The grass has tall, dry, golden stems.
Prune yearly utilizing hedge trimmers for thick grasses or shearing scissors for gentle trimming.

It’s advisable to prune decorative grasses as soon as yearly and divide your crops as soon as each 5 years for one of the best efficiency. Hedge trimmers work greatest on thick grasses as a result of they will deal with extra per lower, whereas shearing scissors work greatest for gentle trimming. 

Evergreen sedges: As I discussed earlier, most evergreens gained’t want pruning. Nevertheless, an occasional clean-up gained’t harm. Sedges, particularly, don’t wish to be over-pruned, so that you’re simply going for a lightweight trim right here. Generally, even a delicate raking to take away any useless or dried-up foliage does the trick. 

Heat-season grasses and evergreen grasses (if wanted): Following the plant’s form as greatest as you may, lower the grass just under your twine. Should you didn’t use twine, lower about three to 6 inches from the bottom. Some varieties will be lower to the bottom. 

Cool-season grasses: When slicing these again, go away not less than ⅓ of the plant remaining. Slicing extra can severely injury or kill the plant. 

Professional tip: Your basic spring clean-up and annual feed can occur at the moment as effectively. Nevertheless, dividing each heat and cool-season grasses ought to solely occur when they’re actively rising however exterior their flowering window. Division of evergreens ought to solely be completed in spring. If break up simply earlier than winter, they might not survive since they don’t have a dormant interval.

Step 5: Clear Up, Compost, and Get pleasure from!

Close-up of a compost heap with dried ornamental grass. Dried ornamental grass exhibits dry slender stems and thin narrow leaves with pointed tips.
Use trimmed decorative grass as compost or mulch, guaranteeing seedheads are eliminated to stop unintentional seed unfold.

Take your trimmings to the compost, or higher but, use them as mulch in your spring vegetable backyard! Simply be sure you take away the seedheads beforehand so that you don’t unintentionally unfold grass seeds throughout your backyard. Rake across the base of your trimmed crops to take away any straggling leaves which have fallen. 

When completed proper, pruned decorative grasses will come again yearly for 2 to 6 years. Dividing and transplanting new crops retains your backyard lush as outdated crops die off and new crops take over and thrive. 

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

It’s not unusual for grasses to be left un-pruned. Though they might be high quality, they might not look as aesthetically pleasing. With correct pruning, they’ll look nicer and there’s decreased threat of spreading to undesirable areas. The spring foliage has a better time rising from freshened ideas.

Cool-season grasses will be irreversibly over-pruned, so solely prune off about ⅔ of the plant. Greater than this causes poor efficiency or dying.

Closing Ideas 

Choose the proper decorative grass to your area and backyard wants. Prune them correctly primarily based on the kind, and also you’ll be having fun with them for years to come back. 

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