Sat March 31, 2012
Garden Report

Prepping Ornamental Grasses to Make a Bold Splash in Lawn or Garden

Ornamental grasses are a favorite way to make a statement in the garden or landscaping. And KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton says now is the time to groom them so they’ll be at their best for spring and summer.

Right now is the time to cut back ornamental grasses.  The next few weeks are the only time the grasses aren’t a statement in the landscape. 

The grasses can be cut back by hand.  A sharp shear and strong wrist are necessary.  A power hedge shear makes quick work of cutting grasses.  Try to run the shear straight through.  Cutting back and forth makes a lot of extra clean-up work.  I’ve also talked to folks that have used a reciprocating saw, like a saws-all, to cut their grass clumps.

Most grasses should be cut four to six inches above the soil.  Smaller grasses like blue fescue can be cut lower.  Cool season grasses like blue avena are already growing.   Cut the new grass blades along with the old dry ones.  Depending on the weather, warm season grasses like hardy pampas grass won’t show new green blades for a few weeks.

Grasses may die out in the middle of the clump by the third or fourth season.  Rejuvenate them in the spring by digging the clump and dividing it into three or five smaller clumps. 

Just like the lawn, ornamental grasses like nitrogen.  Fertilize them with the same fertilizer the lawn gets.  Just a little fertilizer goes a long way.

Avalanche Feather Reed Grass grows three or four feet tall and only a foot or so wide.  It has green and white variegated blades. 

Korean Feather Reed Grass is a Plant Select plant from 2009.  It grows upright in full sun but is arching in partial shade.  It has a pink tinge to its summer plumes.  All of the Feather Reed Grasses are cool season grasses.  The start to grow in early spring and are showy through the rest of the year. 

Little Bluestem is a native grass and is a low water user.  It grows a foot or so tall and wide.  It is a warm season grass, so it wakes up in May.  Little Bluestem has a russet red fall and winter color.  It can become weedy because it re-seeds itself.

It is dry along the Front Range.  Watering will benefit all plants.  It’s too early to turn on sprinkler systems so the hose will have to be dragged around.  Even if the beds aren’t cleaned out, watering is the most important garden task to do right now.




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