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How to Care for Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are easy to grow, relatively easy to care for, and can greatly enhance the look of nearly any garden if properly tended to. Much like any facet of the garden, however, proper care is important to keep your ornamental grass performing at its peak. A little watering, a bit of pruning and following a few easy steps will help you to get the very best results out of your ornamental grass and will keep your landscape looking lovely for years.

Feed your ornamental grasses at least once per year, preferably in the spring. Giving your ornamental grasses a nitrogen-rich fertilizer annually will keep it from looking dull and droopy. In general, it is recommended to use three-quarters of a pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square yards. For smaller gardens, simply scale the amount back proportionally. Water thoroughly after applying the fertilizer.

Weed your ornamental grasses regularly. Weeds use up natural resources in the soil and will deprive the grasses of what they need to thrive. An effective way to prevent this is to clear a roughly six-inch area around the base of your ornamental grass and keep that area mulched. Mulch will discourage weeds and will help to keep the root system of your grass moist.

Water your grass. This tip seems pretty simple, but it is generally the biggest culprit when it comes to under-performing ornamental grass. If you live in an area that doesn't experience regular rainfall, it is very important to give your grass a deep soaking about once per week--especially during the first year of growth, when the grass is at its most susceptible.

Give the ornamental grasses enough space to thrive. As many ornamental grasses tend to be of the clumping variety, the clumps toward the center often will get choked off from nutrients and sunlight by clumps on the outer edges. To prevent this, divide the clumps of ornamental grasses each spring. Prune the clump you wish to remove down to between 3 and 5 inches and use a shovel to dig the entire clump--roots and all--out of the ground. If you wish, replant the removed clumps elsewhere.

Cut back ornamental grasses each spring. Prune the grass to a height of between 4 and 8 inches. This will allow full sun exposure to get to all parts of the grass and will encourage healthy growth throughout the coming season.

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