Springtime Gardening: Pruning Ornamental Grasses

Springtime Gardening: Pruning Ornamental Grasses

Springtime Gardening: Pruning Ornamental Grasses

Hi everyone from yes-we-just-got-three-more-inches-of-snow Southern New Jersey! Luckily, the snow has almost totally melted away! I must admit: I love snow! So while many people have been complaining about the amount of snow we received this year, I’ve been over the moon happy about it!

With the first warmer temperatures in Spring, however, comes my almost-obsession with wanting to get outside and start cleaning up the garden beds.

One of the easiest gardening tasks is pruning our ornamental grasses. 

Some people like to prune their ornamental grasses in the Fall, but I like to leave our pruning for the Springtime. Keeping the ornamental grasses natural through the Winter season adds lots of Winter interest to the garden, as the grasses sway in the wind and look almost sculptural when covered with snow.

ornamental grass covered in snow

I use basic hand pruners whenever possible, as opposed to larger loppers. Using the hand pruners may make the process take longer, but I like to go section by section, grabbing a section in one hand while pruning with the other. This way, I can easily take that clump of just-cut grass and toss it into my garden bucket that I carry around when cleaning up our garden beds, keeping the mess from pruning to a minimum.

Here’s a picture of one of my favorite ornamental grasses — Toffee Twist Grass — just after it’s Spring haircut last year in early April . . . 

Toffee Twist Grass just after pruning in the Spring

Ornamental grasses grow quickly, so don’t worry about pruning them down short!

Here’s what the Toffee Grass looked like a month later in May . . .  

Toffee Twist Grass one month after pruning in Spring

And here’s the same grass now fully grown back enjoying the Summer sun . . . 

Toffee Twist Grass in the garden landscape

I had to cut this particular Toffee Grass once during the Summer, as it began getting a bit too bushy, but other than that – it just remained an easy-care plant all season long!

Here’s the same Toffee Grass in the Fall . . .

Toffee Twist Grass in the Fall landscape

If you’re new to ornamental grasses, my main advice is to do your homework before you purchase any plants. Many grasses can quickly outgrow their planting area, so it’s important to pay attention to the plant labels that list the average height and width. And yes, I know from experience, having transplanted some ornamental grasses more than once. Luckily, our Toffee Twist grass has not outgrown its spot over the past four or five years!

How about you? Have you started your Spring gardening yet? 

Happy pruning!




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  1. What about Fackahatchi (sp?) grasses. We’ve had these grasses for many years and have done nothing with them except make “babies” & give to friends etc. But this year our original two looked like the “leaves” were browning and we’re not sure what to do. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    • I’m not familiar with Fakahatchee Grass, but I did “google” it for you. There are many sites with detailed plant information, and it sounds like it needs lots of water to avoid getting brown. Perhaps your area received less rainfall than normal? If (and again I don’t know your specific garden conditions) that is the case, I’d snip off the brown edges and give it more water. But to be super-sure, snip off a piece of the plant and take it to one of your nurseries, as most have plant experts that could best advise you. Hope this helps!
      Laura / Pet Scribbles recently posted…Chippy Paint Antique Secretary DeskMy Profile

  2. We have dwarf zebra grass in containers. I trimmed it down low. It’s the beginning of April in the Midwest, should I just start watering it now and it will start to grow back? Is there anything else I should put on it?

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