When to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

potted ornamental grass on a porch

Ornamental grasses
complement almost any garden theme, adding height, movement, and texture all season long. If you have ornamental grasses in your yard, you may need to cut them down so they will grow back next year. The best time of year to trim ornamental grasses varies depending on the type of grass you have. Follow these tips for the best results.

When to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

Grass is typically categorized as cool season, warm season, or evergreen. Each one has slightly different rules regarding when and how to cut them back. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Cut back warm-season grasses in fall, or any time before mid-spring: If you enjoy a tidy winter garden, trim warm-season ornamental grasses in the fall. If you like the way they look, you can wait as late as mid-spring.
  • Cut back cool-season grasses in late winter or early spring: Leave the foliage in place until the last snowfall.
  • Don’t cut back evergreen grasses: These live through the winter, so they never need to be cut back.

How to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

The tools needed to trim and winterize ornamental grasses include:

  • Gloves
  • A roll of tape or bungee cords
  • Pruning shears or a power hedge trimmer

First, wear gloves to protect your hands. To make clean-up easier, or to help prepare the grass for the compost pile, bundle the stalks before you start cutting. You can use any wide tape or bungee cords to tie up ornamental grasses. If the grass is tall, you may want to tie it in two or three spots.

Now, you’re ready to cut the grass with pruning shears. A power hedge trimmer might be helpful if the grass is large and well-established. Cut warm-season grass a few inches from the ground. Cut cool-season grass so that one-third of the plant remains.

When to Divide Ornamental Grasses

Dividing increases the amount of foliage in your yard without having to buy more ornamental grass. Doing this every few seasons helps your grasses remain active and healthy. Dividing can even rejuvenate a clump that has died out in the center.

The trick is to divide ornamental grasses during their active growing season. This means you should:

  • Divide warm-season grasses from spring through mid-summer.
  • Divide cool-season grasses in spring or early fall.
  • Divide evergreen grasses in spring.

How to Divide Ornamental Grasses

You need these tools to divide ornamental grasses:

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears, a knife, or a sharp trowel

While protecting your hands with garden gloves, dig up a clump of grass with a shovel. Divide the clump into several pieces, using shears, a knife, or a sharp trowel. Make sure each piece has some roots attached.

If the main clump is still healthy and hasn’t overgrown its space, you can simply remove small chunks from the outer edges. Whatever technique you use, replant the divided pieces immediately before their roots dry out.

Arrange Professional Yard Maintenance

For expert assistance with all your yard care needs, turn to the skilled team at The Grounds Guys®. We can help with everything from growing and cutting back ornamental grasses to maintaining your lawn and garden beds. Contact us today for a free job estimate.

Once your yard is ready for winter, make sure your home is, too! Aire Serv® offers reliable heating and cooling services, including furnace maintenance, for home comfort all season long.

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighbourly company. Learn more about Neighbourly’s community of home service experts at Neighborly.com/ca.