How to Cut Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grass has become quite popular in home landscapes. These tolerant plants require little care and can handle most soil conditions. Ornamental grasses come in an array of styles and sizes ranging from low-growing mounds to tall, majestic columns as large as a tree. Learning how to cut ornamental grasses begins with understanding the growth pattern of this type of plant. Having the proper equipment on hand makes the chore of cutting ornamental grass easy for this low-maintenance plant.

Step 1

Wear gloves and protective clothing to prevent scratches and cuts from sharp strands of ornamental grass.

Step 2

Schedule your pruning during the late spring before the ground has really warmed up after winter. Ornamental grasses don't need to be trimmed at the end of the growing season. Many gardeners choose to leave the brown grasses during winter to add some color and interest in the garden.

Step 3

Examine the base of the ornamental grass by moving the leaves apart. Look for new, bright green shoots appearing around the very center base of the plant. Time your pruning when these new shoots reach 2 to 4 inches in height.

Step 4

Secure a length of twine around taller stalks of ornamental grass to make trimming easier. Tie the twine about 2 feet above the garden surface to hold the clump in place for trimming.

Step 5

Choose the correct tool for cutting your type of ornamental grass. Long-handled pruning shears work well for smaller clumps of grass and tall thin plantings. Use hedge clippers for dense bunches of grass and a chain saw for large mass plantings.

Step 6

Cut at least 2 to 4 inches above new growth. Direct your trimming parallel to the garden surface to obtain a straight shearing cut across the entire clump of ornamental grass. Outer portions of the ornamental grass do not need to be trimmed shorter than the inside. Avoid cutting the new shoots since this may cause a hatched appearance as the leaves grow out. Remaining strands of dried grass will be hidden by new growth when the plant fills out.

Step 7

Rake any dead strands from inside the clumps of grass to provide plenty of room for new shoots to grow. Discard dead grasses in the compost pile or in yard waste bags for recycling.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-sleeved shirt and pants
  • Gloves
  • Twine
  • Pruning shears
  • Hedge clippers
  • Chain saw
  • Rake


  • University of Illinois
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension
Keywords: ornamental grass, cut ornamental grass, pruning ornamental grass

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.