Cutting Back the Ornamental Grasses

I cut back my Blue Oat Grass, but the same procedure works for Feather Reed Grass, Maiden Grass and Pampas Grass.

I’m a little late getting this job done, I really wanted to get last year’s growth cut down BEFORE the plant sent up new blades, but… Anyway, I will be trimming off some of the growing tips of this year’s plant which make the tips a bit brown. That’s OK, there will be plenty of new growth coming on. This task should be done in February or early March and the city and commercial crews in Fort Collins are really great about getting it done then. I notice that the grasses in the street medians have been cut down and then I try to remember to get mine done.

Before trimmingHere’s what they look like at the end of the winter.

with tools

To make clean-up easier, I spread a tarp around the base of the plant. It doesn’t fit perfectly and if the plant were any bigger, I’d have to use two. It’s close enough for me. I’ll be using my electric hedge-trimmer (aka shrubber) which works great on most grasses. Some hardy pampas grass have much thicker blades and may need a chainsaw instead.

Cut with debris

Some grass debris landed in the rocks, but most of it landed on the tarp. With some heavy duty work gloves on, I then reached into the center of the plant and pulled out any blades of grass that came out easily. This step is more time-consuming but it helps to avoid (or at least delay) the dead center than most grasses get as they mature. The grass blades are sharp though! Don’t do this without a descent pair of gloves! Next, an easy trip to the compost pile and I’m done.

Done, cut grasses

As I trimmed, I tried to avoid the new growth so my grasses still ended up rounded, but they can also be cut straight across especially if you’re doing it in February instead of on the very last day of March.