As March dawns, winter begins to loosen its grip as spring pushes its way in. For many, the tan or gray of ornamental grasses poking their seedheads above the snow was the only thing breaking up the endless expanses of white in our landscapes. Those seedheads have done their job; now it’s time for the next generation to take their place.
It’s time to give your ornamental grasses their spring trim. This is one of the earliest landscape tasks of the season because the new year’s new growth will soon begin appearing in between last year’s stalks. Wait too long and you’ll remove new grass right along with the old. That means no seedheads giving your landscape that bit of color you’ve come to expect next winter.
The tool to use is whatever’s comfortable for you. I’ve heard of people using hedge clippers, loppers, chainsaws and even pruning shears. For most plantings, hedge clippers are, arguably, the easiest and safest, especially if they’re new, lightweight models with geared pivot points.
Ornamental grasses should be cut as close to the ground as possible without cutting new growth. If you cut them back very soon, you should be able to trim them back to within a couple inches of the ground. Later in the season, you may have to trim higher to avoid cutting the new growth. The best way to know how high to trim is to begin low from the outside. If you begin seeing green among the brown, raise the cut so it’s above the new growth. When the new growth reaches its mature height, you won’t be able to see where you changed height.
Getting rid of the clippings can be a problem if you don’t compost. Check with your trash hauler to see if you can put them out for pickup. If not, check with your town. Some pick up landscape waste during spring clean-up. If you’d rather not worry about trimming height, disposing of the debris or timing, we have landscape professionals who would be happy to handle the whole job for you.