Friday, March 12, 2010

Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses - Part 4

Warm season grasses will not be growing for awhile yet, at least not in most of North America. They require warm soil before they will show signs of life. More on this subject later.

So there isn't the same rush to get the tops trimmed off of these warm season grasses:
  • Andropogon - Big bluestem
  • Bouteloua - Blue grama
  • Imperata - Japanese blood grass
  • Miscanthus - Maiden grass
  • Panicum - Switch grass
  • Pennisetum - Fountain grass
  • Saccharum - Hardy pampas grass
  • Schizachyrium - Little bluestem
  • Sorghastrum - Indian grass
  • Sporobolus
All those listed above, except for Miscanthus and Saccharum, are probably easiest dealt with by using a bread knife, as mentioned in Cutting Back Grasses - Part 1. Cut them down to 3-4" above the crown.

I suggest that if the stems of Miscanthus and Saccharum are dry, that it can be quite easy to break them off. One spring when my back was sore, I pushed over a couple of stalks at a time with my foot, planted my left foot on the stalk to hold it down, about a foot from the plant's crown. With my right foot (and a fairly hard-toed shoe or boot) I kicked at the base of the stalk until it separated. This was surprisingly easy to do.

As mentioned on our website, the heavier grasses can be cut back with a hedge trimmer or a weed eater-type machine, using a blade rather than the nylon line.