Introduction: Decorative Grass Spring Cleanup

About: Steward to about 20,000 trees on 40 acres.

Decorative grasses are great for adding a vertical dimension to our landscaping. They come in a wide range of heights and textures. They are perennials but do need to be cut back annually and the tops disposed of. To simplify the process I use these tools:

  • a couple of 1/4" x 6' nylon ropes
  • a manual hedge trimmer for the small diameter grasses
  • a chainsaw for the large diameter grasses
  • a big-wheel garden cart
  • safety grasses
  • work gloves
  • hearing protection, if using a chainsaw

Step 1:

If your patch of grass is fairly small in diameter, a foot or less, you can probably do the whole thing in one bundle. Larger patches should probably be done in stages. For a small patch, put one of the ropes around the stems about a foot from the ground. Pull the ends tight around the stems so they form a tight bundle. You might want to loop the rope around a couple of times before tying off the ends. Make sure there is no part of the rope hanging down to where you will be cutting, especially if you are using a chainsaw.

While not necessary, you might want to tie a second rope higher on the bundle. Again, pull the rope as tight as you can to compress the stems.

Using the hedge trimmers, start at the upwind side of the bundle, about 2-3" from the ground. Cut the stems a couple dozen at a time until the whole bundle falls over. You can now carry the bundle to your compost pile, the curb for yard waste pick-up, or to your vehicle for transporting to your local yard waste recycling site. The ropes can be used as handles for carrying. Remember to remove the ropes for reuse.

For larger diameter grasses, more like bamboo, use a chainsaw if you have one. Otherwise, the hedge trimmer cutting will be the same as for the smaller grasses except that you'll probably have to cut fewer stems each time.

Instead of carrying each bundle I load them into our big-wheel cart and roll a load to the compost bins.