Miller Landscape Blog

When Should I Prune Perennial Grasses?

Nov 8

Written by:
11/8/2013 1:45 PM  RssIcon

When to prune perennial grasses is a common question from our customers and there are a few different answers available if you start searching around, so we wanted to take a moment and share our thoughts.

                Perennial grasses come in many different shapes and sizes. The term 'perennial grasses' is used to lump together various grasses including bamboo and other grass-like plants. Knowing which grass you have can help determine the best time to prune your individual plant but there is a general rule that you can use if you don't know when the best time is. If it turns brown, it's okay to cut down, if it stays green, best to wait 'til spring.

                If you have a grass that dies off and turns brown in the fall, it's safe to prune it once it has lost its color and is completely brown. The brown leaves are dead and dormant and pruning at this stage should not harm the plant. You don't have to prune in the fall, however, and waiting until the spring is an option. People choose to wait until the spring so they can enjoy the unique look of the grasses during the winter months. For fall cut-backs, the one-third rule works well. Be sure to leave at least one-third of the plant after pruning. Some grasses can tolerate more but it's better to be safe than sorry.

                If you have a grass that stays green or holds its color, it's usually best to wait until right before spring. After the deep cold of the winter is through and spring is getting closer, you can prune these other grasses. For these grasses, you'll want avoid cutting too close to the base of plant as well. Generally speaking, you'll want to be a little more careful with pruning these grasses but the one-third rule still applies. If you cut too much off, you could irreversibly  damage the grass.

                These simple tips should be pretty safe. There are differing opinions out there but we've found that most grasses follow this basic guide. For some grasses that aren't as cold hardy, waiting until spring is always the safer choice.

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