MANHATTAN, Kan. – Ornamental grasses have staked their claim as gorgeous assets to many a landscape, even in the cold, dark days of winter. But now is the time to cut them back to make room for new growth.
“March is a good time to remove dead foliage from ornamental grasses,” said Kansas State University horticulture rapid response coordinator, Ward Upham. “Grasses green up earlier if foliage is removed and are more attractive without a mixture of dead and live leaves.”
Several tools can be used, including hand clippers, weed whips (if the foliage is small enough in diameter), weed whips with a circular blade or even a chain saw.
“Use the top of the chainsaw bar to cut so the saw doesn’t pull in debris and clog,” said Upham, who is also the coordinator of the K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener program. “It is often helpful to tie the foliage together before cutting so it doesn’t interfere and is easier to dispose of. Burning is another option — but only if it is safe and legal to do so.”
Ornamental grasses may not burn long, but they burn extremely hot, he said. The crown of the plant will not be damaged, and new growth will appear relatively quickly.
If the center of the clump shows little growth, the plant would benefit from division. Dig up the entire clump and separate. Then replant the vigorous growth found on the outer edge of the clump.