Ornamental grasses: maintenance

Established grasses are the ultimate low maintenance plants. Once a year all you need to do is give then an annual haircut early in spring.
Cut them back to within six to 10 inches of the ground. Use hedge shears and wear gloves - some species have very sharp edges.
Try to cut down the previous year's growth of cool season grasses as soon as the snow melts because that's when they start to grow. If you leave this job too long you could chop off the tips of the leaves.
When cutting these grasses down, leave about one-third of previous year's growth in place. The new growth will quickly hide the old plant material.
You can cut warm-season grasses right down to the ground if you like, but if you are doing the job late, be sure not to cut into the new growing tips. I like to cut these grasses down a little later because I find that the previous season's buff-colored foliage looks good in with the spring-flowering bulbs.
We have found the most efficient way to cut back the grasses in our large beds is to use a gas-powered hedge trimmer, which we rent for the job.
In some beds, we cut the grasses down in layers. This ensures that the dead plant material is nicely chopped up into mulch that can be left on the beds. In other beds, where the mass of dead material is just too much, we cut at the base and take the dead plant material away.

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