How to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses


Growing ornamental grasses is an effective way to add color, texture and interest to a yard. Ornamental grasses are popular among gardeners, not just because of their beauty, but because most species are adaptable to many types of soil conditions. They are easy to maintain and require little effort to grow). Most of these grasses do, however, benefit from being cut back in the spring to promote a more attractive healthy appearance during the warm growing season.

Step 1

Put on a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, garden gloves and protective eye wear before approaching grass. Many ornamental grasses are sharp and can cut or scratch unprotected areas of the body.

Step 2

Tie a piece of twine or thin nylon rope securely around the tall leaves and stalks of the grass approximately 12 to 18 inches above the ground.

Step 3

Trim the plant with a pair of sharp garden shears or hedge clippers to a height of 4 to 5 inches. To achieve the best aesthetic results, cut the grass in a straight line, parallel to the ground.

Step 4

Remove dead foliage from the area. Use a garden rake to remove any loose dead foliage caught between the clumps of existing grass.

Tips and Warnings

  • If ornamental grasses are not cut back in the spring, any new growth may only appear out of the sides and leave the plant with unattractive, open centers.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Garden gloves
  • Protective eye wear
  • Twine or thin nylon rope
  • Garden shears
  • Hedge clippers
  • Rake


  • Colorado State University Extension: Ornamental Grasses
  • University of Illinois Extension: The Green Thumb

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois Extension: Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: reduce ornamental grass, cutting ornamental grasses, ornamental grass trimming, ornamental grass maintenance

About this Author

Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for and eHow, as well as online specialty courses for She has a B.A. in English from the University of Central Florida, and over 15 years experience in business development, sales, and marketing. An avid gardener, cook, and voracious reader, Barbara resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.