Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses - Part 1

We are about a month ahead this year. The cool season grasses are already growing. So that meant that as soon as the Olympics were over I had to get outside and start cutting off the dead grass before I would be cutting off the tips of new growth.

The hand pruners were closest so I grabbed them. As I was working away I kept asking myself "Last year, didn't I discover something that was better than these things?" Once I developed a blister I knew I had to change tools.

So I grabbed a sickle. It was better, but I am quite sure it wasn't my "discovery" from last year. Then the light bulb went on. I am quite sure I used a saw! A pruning saw (has a curved blade). It was still too rough so it occurred to me that a knife with a finer serration would work even better.

So I grabbed our lowest-quality bread knife, and it was GREAT. It had a coarse serration. It helps if the weather is warm enough to work with bare hands, as its really hard to hold a bread knife handle if wearing large gloves!

My lengthy hedges of C. Karl Foerster and Overdam were done in no time! It also works very well for Deschampsia, Pennisetum, and all grasses with soft leaves. It does not work well for the heavy stalks of Miscanthus or Saccharum.

Check thrift stores for old bread knives. By the way, it also works particularly well for cutting off the soft wet leaves of Siberian iris, which doesn't respond well to any other method of removal that I have discovered.