How to Cut Ornamental Grass: A Complete Guide for Gardeners


Ornamental grasses can add beauty, texture, and movement to any garden. However, as they grow, they can become overgrown and messy if not properly maintained.

One of the essential tasks in caring for ornamental grass is knowing how to cut it back.

In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of cutting ornamental grass, ensuring that your garden remains tidy and vibrant.

Why is it Important to Cut Ornamental Grass?

Before we dive into the process of cutting ornamental grass, let’s understand why it is essential. Cutting back ornamental grass serves several purposes:

  1. Aesthetics: Over time, ornamental grass can become untidy and overgrown, detracting from the overall beauty of your garden. By cutting it back, you can maintain a neat and well-groomed appearance.
  2. Health: Regularly cutting back ornamental grass promotes healthy growth. It allows for better air circulation, reduces the risk of diseases, and prevents the grass from becoming too dense.
  3. Propagation: Cutting back ornamental grass provides an opportunity for propagation. You can divide the grass clumps and replant them in other areas of your garden or share them with fellow gardeners.

Now that we understand the importance of cutting ornamental grass, let’s move on to the steps involved.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Cut Ornamental Grass

Step 1: Choose the Right Time

The best time to cut ornamental grass is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. By cutting it back at this time, you allow the new shoots to emerge without any hindrance.

Additionally, cutting back in early spring allows you to enjoy the ornamental grass’s winter interest for a longer period.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Tools

To cut ornamental grass effectively, you will need the following tools:

  • Pruning Shears: Use sharp pruning shears for smaller grasses or those with thin stems.
  • Loppers: For larger grasses with thicker stems, loppers provide the necessary leverage and cutting power.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands from any sharp edges or potential irritants.

Step 3: Prepare the Grass

Before you start cutting, tie the ornamental grass into a bundle using twine or a bungee cord. This will make it easier to handle and prevent the grass from scattering all over the garden.

Step 4: Cut the Grass

Hold the bundle of grass firmly near the base, close to the ground. Position your pruning shears or loppers a few inches above the ground and make a clean cut.

Avoid cutting too close to the ground, as this can damage the crown of the grass.

Step 5: Dispose of the Cut Grass

Once you have cut the ornamental grass, gather the cuttings and dispose of them properly. You can add them to your compost pile or use them as mulch in other areas of your garden.

Step 6: Maintain and Care for the Grass

After cutting back the ornamental grass, it’s important to provide proper care to ensure its healthy growth. Here are a few tips:

  • Watering: Water the grass regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil moist.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a slow-release fertilizer in early spring to provide the necessary nutrients for growth.
  • Dividing: Every few years, divide the grass clumps to prevent overcrowding and promote vigorous growth.

By following these steps and providing proper care, you can enjoy beautiful and well-maintained ornamental grass in your garden.


Cutting ornamental grass is a simple yet crucial task in maintaining a vibrant and tidy garden.

By choosing the right time, using the proper tools, and following the step-by-step guide, you can ensure the health and beauty of your ornamental grass.

Remember to provide ongoing care and maintenance to promote its growth and longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I cut my ornamental grass?

Ornamental grass should be cut back once a year, preferably in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Can I cut my ornamental grass in the fall?

It is generally recommended to cut ornamental grass in late winter or early spring. However, if your grass has become unsightly or overgrown, you can trim it back in the fall.

Just be aware that cutting it back in the fall may remove its winter interest.

Should I wear protective gear when cutting ornamental grass?

Yes, it is advisable to wear gloves when cutting ornamental grass to protect your hands from any sharp edges or potential irritants.

Can I use a lawnmower to cut ornamental grass?

Using a lawnmower to cut ornamental grass is not recommended. The blades of a lawnmower may not provide a clean cut and can damage the grass.

Can I divide my ornamental grass after cutting it back?

Yes, cutting back ornamental grass provides an excellent opportunity to divide the clumps and propagate them in other areas of your garden.

How do I prevent my ornamental grass from becoming overgrown?

Regularly cutting back your ornamental grass, dividing the clumps every few years, and providing proper care and maintenance will help prevent it from becoming overgrown.

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