By G. Bosley  a.k.a. “groundhog”

Ornamental grasses are a great addition to any garden.  They require very little maintenace and attract birds, butterflies and beneficial insects into your yard.

In the early spring some of the ornamental grasses don’t add much beauty to the garden. 

 If you left the tall stems of ornamental grass in your garden for winter interest some of them are probably laying on the ground like this one.  Once the snow begins to melt you can cut some of the stems back to tidy the garden.

                                       

When your cutting back any dead leaves or stems in the early spring, just remove enough to tidy things up.  By leaving the stems and leaves longer you are leaving a protective cover for the tender spring shoots that are going to emerge once the weather begins to warm up.  If you remove that protective cover the tender shoots will probably be damaged by a later frost.

If you choose to cut your ornamental grass back in the fall be sure not to cut closer than 6″ from the ground.  I like to leave the the stems about 1′ above the ground.   These stems will help trap leaves and snow for winter protection.

Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens Orange Flame Grass

Whether to cut back your ornamental grass in the fall, or not, is a personal choice.  Some of the taller grasses can be a bit messy to clean up in the spring when the dead leaves and stems are blown all around the yard. 

Some grasses such as sedges, festuca and pennisetum remain evergreen and should not be cut back.  If there are dead leaf tips in the spring they can be cut back once the weather warms and the plants begin to grow again.

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