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Cut Back Ornamental Grass

Spring is here. Your ornamental grass has done its thing. It provided texture and color poking above the snow. Now it’s time to press the refresh button…figuratively of course.

The ornamental grass that graces your yard today is dead, thus the yellow or tan color. In order to repeat the show Frost editednext winter, the dead grass has to be cut to allow a new crop of green ornamental grass to grow. And now’s the time to do it.

Your new crop will grow best if the old is cut as close to the ground as possible. Usually, that means three or four inches. You might notice new, green blades starting to show themselves among the yellow or brown stubble after you’ve trimmed away last year’s crop.

The tools available for the job are numerous. Just pick the one that you feel safest using. Most people choose either power or manual hedge trimmers. These are great for large plantings of ornamental grass. Hedge trimmers cut wide swaths relatively level.

If you don’t have a pair of hedge clippers and are going to buy them, I recommend that you shop both power and manual models. While the natural tendency is to go right to the power tools, they can be heavy and awkward to use. Gasoline powered models are the heaviest, followed by battery powered models and corded electric models. With corded models you also have be aware of where the cord is at all times so you don’t cut it.

If you have had unpleasant experiences using old fashioned steel blade, wood handled manual clippers, be sure to check out the new ones on the market today. They have lightweight alloy blades and fiberglass handles. Be sure and try one with a geared pivot point. The old fashion models consist of the two blades held together with a pivot bolt. Today’s higher quality models have a gearing mechanism. Open them up and you can see the gearing. These are lighter weight and easier to use than even the best power unit, especially for a homeowner who only uses them once a year to cut ornamental grass.

Loppers can also be used, especially if you only have a small patch to cut. Loppers are like extended reach pruning shears. Neither is very practical for a large patch. They take small cuts and the top won’t be perfectly flat. A string trimmer can be used but it scatters the clippings, making clean-up harder. Don’t even think about using a chainsaw. Besides the saw being dangerous, the grass stalks are too flexible for a good cut. This can lead to an accident waiting to happen.

If you have to cut down a patch of ornamental grass, I’d suggest investing in lightweight, geared, manual hedge clippers. Whatever you use, though, the time to do it is now. If you wait too long, you’ll be cutting off green stalks, reducing the number of yellow or brown color next winter. And isn’t that the reason you planted ornamental grass?

If you don’t have the time or the interest to do it yourself, we have landscape professionals who would be happy to do it for you.

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