How to Divide Ornamental Grasses


Ornamental grass is a term to describe the variety of grasses that are used in landscape design. The grasses are available in two growing varieties: clumping or underground rhizomes. Both types are divided in spring or late fall at the end of the growing season by digging and dividing the root system. Ornamental grasses are divided to prevent overgrowth, make additional plants, stimulate new growth, and to clean up and remove dead growth.

Step 1

Remove the previous year's foliage by cutting it back to approximately 4 inches from the ground level with a sharp hedge clipper. Tie the grass clump together prior to cutting to contain the grass debris for easy disposal.

Step 2

Dig around the grass root ball or rhizome section with a sharp blade shovel. Dig wide enough to include some perimeter soil. Remove the root ball or rhizomes from the ground and place it in a shaded area.

Step 3

Divide the grass by cutting the roots or rhizomes into sections with a sharp saw or knife. The root structure will be dense and difficult to cut.

Step 4

Divide only the edge growth of grass clumps that die out in the middle as this is where there is vigorous grass growth. Discard the center clump as this portion will not grow well.

Step 5

Keep the grass divisions in a shaded area until the transplant area is ready.

Step 6

Transplant the grass divisions as soon as possible after making the cuts. Set the division in a hole so the grass crown is placed at the same depth as the previous growing location.

Things You'll Need

  • Twine
  • Hedge clipper
  • Saw
  • Knife
  • Shovel
  • Long pants
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Gloves


  • Ground Maintenance:Divide Ornamental Grasses
  • Bluestem Nursery: How to Divide Ornamental Grasses
  • University of Illinois Extension: Maintenance of Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: propagating ornamental grass, dividing ornamental grass, ornamental grass overgrowth

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.