Although trimming ornamental grasses is typically a February yard maintenance to-do list item in the Knoxville, Tenn. area, with the harsh weather we’ve had lately, most people haven’t had the opportunity to get out in the yard.

If that’s you, it’s time to start trimming. Here are a few facts, tips and a fun how-to for making this chore way easier:

Why Do It?

Trimming your ornamental grasses will not only make the plant look better but it will also help the health of the plant. When new growth is covered by the dead stalks, its not getting the sunlight it needs to thrive. Plus, the form of the plant will change (and can be somewhat unruly) if new growth has to push it’s way through the dead stuff.

How Much Should You Trim Off?

For most ornamental grasses, you’ll need to take off about all but one-fifth or one-sixth of the old growth. So for Maiden Grass, you’ll leave about 12-15 inches of old growth depending on its size. For Dwarf Fountain Grass, you should leave around six inches. If you have a monster Pampass Grass in your landscaping, you’ll leave about 24 inches.

What’s the Best Tool?

You can trim grasses with hand shears or electric hedge trimmers. Personally, I prefer the hand shears approach. Either way, it’ll make clean up a lot easier if you use the tie-it-off technique. Here’s how it works:


If you’re dealing with a large clump of grass and want to separate it into two, you can do so after the grass has been trimmed. It’s best to divide the large clump into smaller sections of about 8-10 inches before replanting. Keep in mind that while it’s small now, most grasses will grow back to their original size in just a few years so be careful to choose an appropriate location for your new plant.

Thinking about other spring landscaping maintenance this month? Check out our blog post Spring Landscape Maintenance. Or, if you’d rather have someone else do the work, fill out our contact form or call 865-765-5550.

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