Spring Care of Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are very popular in the garden because they are low maintenance, provide great texture, sound and motion in the garden, are largely disease and pest free and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The biggest maintenance time for ornamental grasses is spring cleanup. Ornamental grasses will benefit from being cut back in early spring before the new growth appears. Unfortunately with some of the larger grasses this is not an easy task. I have tried several methods including tieing the foliage into bundles with string and using my weed eater. I've even used the circular blade attachment on the weed eater. Quite frankly all I ended up with was a lot of noise and a large mess. After trying several methods I found the best approach was to use the proper tools.
Smaller runner type grasses or thin blade grasses (eg Imperata Japanese blood grass) -- use an electric grass trimmer or small hedger to sheer the grass at close to ground level. Cleanup up the cut grasses gently with a grass rake.
Thicker stemmed grasses (eg Miscanthus sinensis Zebra grass) -- use large pruning loppers designed for 1 1/2" or greater sized stems rather than hand pruners. Start on the outside and work your way in and round the base of the grass. Using large pruning tools saves your hands from blisters and cramping and it's quicker because you can cut several blades at once.
Some grasses may also need to be split periodically although I find if they are still growing in the centre and they have room to spread I don't bother. Divide clumps first with a newly sharpened spade or shovel. If that doesn't work you may have to split clumps with an axe.