Ask a Question forum: ornamental grasses

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GAgirl
Feb 24, 2018 2:19 PM CST
We planted some ornamental grasses (hamlyn grass) last fall at our new home. Can the dead stalks be trimmed now before they come out again? When is the best trim to trim them each season? In the fall so they can come out again in the spring or some other time?

Thanks.
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
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AnnaZ
Feb 25, 2018 7:13 AM CST
I live in zone 4b.....i read they can be cut back about the first of March.
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Feb 25, 2018 7:16 AM CST
It should be cut back in the fall, that is when I've always cut mine back, I'd say go ahead and do it now before it does start to grow, your correct on that, wear long sleeves and gloves, and very sharp shears, cut down to about 2-3" Be careful it can cut like a razor if it hits you the right way. I love ornamental grasses they make such a bold statement.

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Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Feb 25, 2018 7:38 AM CST
The best time to cut them back is sometime before they start growing again; it mostly depends on what you're after as far as their ornamental value.
I leave most of mine until late winter/early spring because I love viewing the grass forms over the winter.
Plus, I find they are easier to cut then, too, when they are good and dry and dead Hilarious!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 25, 2018 7:50 AM CST
I was told by a nursery owner who specialized in ornamental grasses to always only cut them back in spring. This may have been because in this area some are borderline hardy and having the tops left on gives them some added insulation in winter. Then there's also the winter visual interest as Dirt mentioned, and perhaps seeds for birds. If the grass is reliably hardy in that area then it probably doesn't make much difference to the grass as long as it isn't cut back while still green.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Feb 25, 2018 9:49 AM CST
Actually, cutting them back when they're green doesn't hurt them either, they are grasses after all, just delays bloom or prevents it if done late. I've done than plenty relocating them in the middle of summer...and also when I'm needing to get some new plant to get growing and I don't want the grass shading it while still small.

Yes Thumbs up cover and feed for the critters is another reason to leave them standing...
Also, you don't have to cut them back at all, I mean it isn't necessary for their continued growth and happiness to get tidied up every year...I've got some wild and neglected areas that can demonstrate Rolling my eyes.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 25, 2018 10:15 AM CST
I mentioned cutting back (in fall) when still green in the context of hardiness. If you cut back in the fall when they are still green, you reduce the photosynthetic area which makes the food they need to survive and regrow after winter. If they're reliably hardy where they are growing then you can certainly get away with it.
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
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AnnaZ
Feb 25, 2018 12:01 PM CST
I didn't cut them back the first year. The green was trying to come through the dead crap and looked like "H".
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Feb 25, 2018 12:12 PM CST
http://extension.uga.edu/publi...

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Feb 26, 2018 1:29 AM CST
@GAgirl.
Here is a care sheet specifically for you plant printed up for a nursery. It's got a sentence at the bottom When To Cut Back: It's very short, but specific to your ?,

https://www.bluestem.ca/pennis...

My grasses here are pruned from year to year depending on the winter. One I never prune any more is Blue fescue. I think we all have learned to see what happens in our own yards and we all do it different because of that, and probably all correctly too.

The time not to cut them is after growth has come up, cutting spring growth weakens them.


[Last edited by lauriebasler - Feb 26, 2018 5:39 AM (+)]
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Name: Dana
Canton, OH (Zone 6a)
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bloominholes2fill
Mar 13, 2018 5:56 PM CST
I always keep an eye on the local commercial properties that have landscape service. When I notice their grasses are cut back, I go and cut mine back! Whistling Hilarious!

Professional services will cut back in the Fall, but I found that may not be an "across-the-board" method. I killed a Pampas grass by cutting it in the Fall. Glare Perhaps it works for only a select few species, at least in my particular zone, so to be safe, I wait until Late Winter/Early Spring. Plus I love the Winter interest and how they serve the local critters, in Winter. Smiling
"The grass is only greener where it's watered and fertilized." - Yours Truly
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