Ornamental grasses are a great element to have in your yards. They come in varying heights and colors, and the best part about them is that they bring movement to your landscape to make it come alive. Like most plants we need to maintain these grasses to ensure they look their best when new growth begins.

Ornamental grasses tend to classified by the following categories: cool season, warm season, and evergreen grass-like plants.

Cool season grasses:

  1. Tend to look good even in cool weather
  2. Much of their growth occurs in the spring before temperatures start to rise or in the fall when it starts to cool down

Cool season grass maintenance:

  1. Trimming cool season grasses too severely may irreparably damage the grass
  2. Cut back to about 1/3 of the previous year’s growth

Examples:

  1. Agrostis pallens (used for native lawns)
  2. Deschampsia caespitosa
  3. Festuca californica
  4. Stipa (nassella) cernua

Warm season grasses:

  1. Growth occurs in mid to late spring and into early summer
  2. Flower when the weather is warmer
  3. Turn brown in winter

Warm season grass maintenance:

  1. When you see the foliage start to turn brown you can trim them to a few inches off the ground
  2. If you decide to keep brown foliage for aesthetics, trim back in late spring before new growth occurs

Examples:

  1. Muhlenbergia rigens
  2. Bouteloua gracilis
  3. Miscanthus sinensis

Evergreen grass-like plants:

  1. Look like grasses but are not in the same genus as grass

Evergreen grass maintenance:

  1. For evergreen grass-like plants you can give it a nice ‘combing’
    1. Either use your fingers or use a rake to remove dead debris

Examples:

  1. Chondropetalum tectorum
  2. Rushes (Juncus)
  3. Sedges (Carex)

Remember safety first, please wear gloves when caring for your ornamental grasses as some grasses have sharp edges that can leave nasty cuts.