Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses

Why Cut Back Ornamental Grass?

Cutting  ornamental grass helps promote new growth and keeps the grass looking great. For larger grasses, the center will often start to rot if you do not cut the grass back. Leaving dead material on for too long can hinder the plant from warming up in the spring, and will potentially delay new growth for up to 3 weeks.

When To Cut Back Ornamental Grass?

There are two types of ornamental grasses, cool season and warm season. You can either trim ornamental grass in late fall or very early spring before new growth emerges. We recommend waiting until early spring for both types of grass, so the plants provide winter interest as well as providing shelter for animals. Waiting until spring also protects the crown of the plant throughout the winter.

Regardless of when you choose to cut the grass, it needs to be done once it flowers (produces seed pods) and dries out.

The Easiest Way To Cut Back Ornamental Grass

As you can see in the video, it is very easy to take a power hedge trimmer and quickly cut back the grass at the base of the plant. This makes for a very fast and efficient way to trim. You should cut the grass 6-10 inches off the ground. We recommend using gloves, and in some case eye protection. Some grasses can have sharp edges, so some people will also wear long sleeved shirts to protect their arms.

Once you cut the grass, the clippings can be used as mulch around the plants, in gardens or just put into compost piles. The mulch provides nutrients to the soil, helps retain moisture, and prevents weeds from growing.

We never recommend burning off the dead foliage. It is too risky and can cause damage or kill the plants.

  • Cut back in early spring before new growth emerges
  • Using a hedge trimmer is easiest
  • Cut back to 6-10 inches above the ground
  • Use the clippings for mulch or compost