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How to Plant & Care for Ornamental Grass

ornamental grass image by Edsweb from

Ornamental grass needs cutting only once per year, unlike lawn grasses that may need weekly cutting during the growing season. Ornamental grass grows in clumps and can have arching foliage as tall as 15 feet or may have variegated green and creamy white foliage shorter than 1 foot. Some varieties produce flowers. Planting and care of ornamental grass is much like other perennial plants. Ornamental grass can be planted in spring or fall.


Choose a well-drained location with an appropriate sun level for the plant. Some ornamental grasses, like tufted hair grass and Korean feather reed grass, can grow in partial shade while other ornament grasses, like blue oat grass and palm sedge, prefer full sun.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the container and as deep as the container is tall.

Mix a commercial all-purpose fertilizer with the removed soil at the rate of 1 lb. for every 100 square feet of the planting bed.

Remove the ornamental grass from the container and examine the root ball. If roots are wrapped around the root ball, use a utility knife to make cuts about 1/2 inch deep into the side of the root ball. Make the cut from the center side of the root ball to the bottom and about every 6 inches around the root ball.

Place the root ball in the center of the hole. Adjust the soil in the bottom of the hole if needed so the soil on the top of the root ball is at ground level. Backfill the hole halfway with the amended soil. Water to settle the soil and then finish backfilling the hole. Water again.

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like wood chips, over the disturbed soil. Keep the mulch about 2 inches away from the base of the plant.


Cut the ornamental grass back to 4 to 6 inches tall in the spring.

Apply an all-purpose fertilizer, if desired, in the spring when new growth appears.

Water regularly, spring to fall, the first two years. Water ornamental grass in sunny locations every 7 to 10 days unless it rains. Ornamental grass in shady locations may need less frequent watering. After two years, water only during long periods of no rain (drought conditions).

Divide plants in spring or fall by digging up an established ornamental grass (about three years in the ground) and cutting it into two clumps with the shovel tip. Remove any dead area from the center and then replant the two divisions.

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