Landscaping & Yard CarePlant Care Instructions

Caring for and Dividing Ornamental Grasses

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to cut back your ornamental grasses.  If you do not prune them, they look straggly and the old growth actually shades the new growth as it emerges. In most cool climates they should be cut back to 6 to 8 inches since the tops of the grasses die back for the winter.

Not only can clumping ornamental grasses be divided to produce more plants, but they often should also be divided to keep the plants healthy.  Left undivided the center of the plants will eventually die out, making for an unsightly plant.

However, dividing a clump of established ornamental grass is no easy task. First you need to dig out the entire clump, then by any means possible divide the clump into several smaller clumps.

Unlike other perennial plants that usually divide quite easily, you’ll have your work cut out dividing a clump of well-established ornamental grass. I’ve used a nursery spade and a hammer, and a chisel and it is not easy. Usually, you must work the outside edges of the clumps and see if you can get pieces at least 3″ in diameter loose. Then keep working your way around the clump.

Make sure to do this before the grass breaks dormancy in the spring. Although a bit of a challenge, it’s worth it when you end up with many new grass plants.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at  and read his blog at

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