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When to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses


Close up of an ornamental grass

Ornamental grass is an excellent alternative to shrubs for landscaping gardens. These fast-growing ground covers will take no time in filling up empty spaces and adding a charm to your outdoor garden. Available in distinct colors, fine textures, and a bundle of varieties for different climates, gardeners usually have no problem picking out grass plants that will suit their garden well. Read further to learn how and when to cut back ornamental grasses.


Best Selling Ornamental Grasses

Do Ornamental Grasses Need to Be Cut Back?

Though they add a showy display to your garden while they’re green and healthy, the end of the growing season will bring that inevitable brown foliage. You might not mind looking at a little more brown becoming a part of your fall garden, but pruning is necessary for the continued health of the grass for the next growing season. Here are some problems you might see in your ornamental grass if you don’t cut it back:

  • Rotting at the centers especially seen with longer grasses.
  • Prevents the plant from warming up on time during the spring, which might delay new growth.

When is the Best Time to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses?

Beautiful Ornamental Grass
Beautiful Ornamental Grass

You’ll find two types of grasses to add to your landscape: cool season grasses and warm season grasses. For the warm season grasses that flourish all through the spring and summers, like the Variegated Liriope, you can either trim them in late fall or early spring. 

Most gardeners like to leave the brown foliage up until the winter or early spring for its showy winter interest. Other than the long blades swaying in the breeze for a picturesque view, they offer shelter for animals.

In any case, you’ll need to cut back the foliage in early spring before new growth emerges. You will want to make sure you prune them back before the dead blades combine seamlessly with the green growth, and it becomes nearly impossible to cut the dead grass without taking down the new growth with it.   

How to Cut Ornamental Grasses in the Spring?

  • Gather your supplies

Before getting down to work, gather your gear. It’s a simple chore, and you won’t be needing much to get it done:

  1. Powerful hedge trimmers
  2. Gempler’s Work Gloves
  3. Tape / rope / bungee cord
  4. Rake
  • Get down to work
  1. Clipping ornamental grass can be a messy task creating grass clumps, and the sharp edges can pierce your fingers so don’t forget to wear Gempler’s Work Gloves before you start. 
  2. Cutting the grass, especially denser ones like pampas feather grass, is much simpler if you bundle them and tie them together. You can use a strong tape to hold them, a rope, or a bungee cord. You can either make a single bundle or multiple ones if your ornamental grass is spread throughout your garden.
  3. Using hedge shears, cut the stalks 4 to 6 inches above the ground for ornamental grasses that grow taller than 3 feet tall. For shorter varieties, such as the Dwarf Mondo Grass, cut back to only about 3 inches. 
  4. Remove the grass bundles from the garden and rake the ground to get any dead material on your lawn.

What to Do With Grass Clippings?

Once you have finished cutting back your ornamental grass, now there’s a bunch of clumps of grass that need to be properly disposed of. In order to properly dispose of the yard waste, you shouldn’t burn them or waste them! It’s not good for your health or that of your plants.

Instead you can use them for mulching the soil around your plants. Mulching is very beneficial for your plants.

It will help retain moisture in the soil, provide warmth, and nutrients. Also, adding a mulch layer prevents weeds from developing. You can also dump it into your compost pile. 

Evergreen Ornamental Grass

Some ornamental grasses are evergreen grasses in regions where they get the ideal conditions, like full sun. If you’ve got one of these in your garden, you won’t need to cut them back annually like the usual varieties. Just put on your gloves, and rake through them every couple of months to catch any dead foliage. Occasionally, remove dead blades as you find them, and use a hedge trimmer every few years to maintain the size you want. 


If you haven’t been pruning your ornamental grass up till now, it’s not too late to start! Just follow the steps above to prune it back once every year, and you’ll be thoroughly impressed with the results.  

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