Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Transplant Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses are a virtual no-work addition to the landscape. They come in sizes ranging from a few inches high to about 14 feet high in every shade of green, plus creamy white, yellow or even striped. Ornamental grass can be planted as a landscape specimen or ground cover, or even to control soil erosion. The dried leaves and stalks of many varieties can be left on the plants to provide winter interest in your yard and garden. It's easy to transplant ornamental grass, providing you do it at the proper time during the growing season.

Prepare the new planting site. Dig a hole approximately 2 feet in diameter and about 18 inches deep. Mix the soil you removed with a 5-gallon bucket of peat moss and a couple shovels full of compost. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole with a garden fork.

Cut back the top growth of the ornamental grass you are transplanting. Remove the stems and leaves so they are one-third the length they were before cutting back.

Push your spade into the soil in a circle around the ornamental grass. Begin about 12 to 18 inches out from the outer edge of the plant. Step on the shovel with your foot and rock the handle back and forth to loosen the root ball.

Go around the circle again, driving the shovel deeper into the soil and rocking the shovel back and forth to further loosen the root ball.

Push the shovel into the same circle a third time, angling the shovel so that its blade cuts the soil under the root ball of the ornamental grass. As you rock the handle back and forth the plant should start to rock. This is a sign that the roots are loosened enough to remove the plant.

Grasp the plant near its base and remove it from the ground. Shake it a little to remove any loose bits of soil from the roots.

Place the root ball into the prepared hole. Gently spread the roots out from the base toward the perimeter of the planting hole.

Back fill the hole with the improved soil. Firm it down gently but firmly with your foot as you go.

Water the transplanted ornamental grass well. Set a hose with a small trickle of water near the base of the plant. Water it for 60 to 90 minutes, until the soil is wet to the depth of the planting hole.

Spread 10-10-10 granulated fertilizer around the base of the plant, beginning about 4 inches from the outer edge, following the manufacturer's recommended rates of application.

Mulch the planting hole with shredded bark or wood chips. Put down a 4- to 6-inch layer, extending out about 12 inches from the base of the plant.


The best time to transplant ornamental grass is in spring or early summer. Because of their slow root growth after midsummer, do not transplant after this time.

To divide your ornamental grass plant and increase your supply, set the just-dug-up root ball on a hard surface. Sever the root ball by driving the blade of the shovel down through the root ball from the top. Replant each portion, ensuring that each division has some roots and some top growth.

Garden Guides