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I have a few grasses in the garden, some like the carex I have given a hair cut to (new C. pressie of topiary shears really good for this job)

I have also cut down my calagmagrostis x acutifolias 'Karl Foerster'. Once i did this I wondered if I was correct.

Before I do anything to the other grass - Stipa Gigantea - I thought I has better check.

The last 2 were planted during last year


I only rake out the dead bits on my stipa  but Verdun will know what we should do


Easy, evergreen ones should only have dead stuff raked out of them. Deciduous grasses are chopped to the ground, I usually do ours in February, but this year I  did it in October as I got fed up of bits of them blowing all over the place.

Great thing is, that it really does not matter, they recover whichever way you do it.


Do you think I could do my miscanthus now Berghill?


Well, I have cut down our huge clumps of Miscanthus hybridus at this time of year for the last 10 years without damaging them.




I will then, thank you Berghill. I often end up doing them when they've started their new growth for the year.


since seeing it done on an edition of GW, I burn my deciduous grasses in March ( providing they're fairly isolated from other plants ) Do not try this on evergreen grasses or they'll die. 


I won't try it on any of them. Something will die. I have seen whole areas of garden fired, sounds very damaging to wildlife. 

Always best to wait until spring before cutting any grasses back.  However I cut some in autumn...deschampsias, for example.  I still have miscamthus looking good but will  cut in next couple of weeks.   Calamagrostis Karl Foerster and Overdam not long cut back.  

I would NEVER burn grasses.  Ever.

Hackonechloa I recently hand brushed to leave clean bases.  Carex of all types are tough so cut any time.   Stipas I cut down in very early spring but with gigantea I am aware of new shoots that will make my flowering stems in the summer. Elymus magellanicus should be cut back in spring but I do this in autumn.  I prefer cutting back to combing out because a nice clean base is left.  Imperata is cut back during winter for me but best in spring.  Pennisetums left till spring too.  Panicums ditto.  Festucas in their second year I always dig up and divide in late winter.  




That's a pretty comprehensive answer Verdun, thank you.

My panicums seem to just fall apart at the end of the season ans I clear up with no cutting.

The Stipa gigantea seems to do OK with neglect, all other stipas have died except Stipa arundinacea which also is neglected, I treat that as a sort of bi/triennial, it seeds about, gets scruffy eventually and I discard the oldest. A bit like Helleborus foetidus.

I think I'll experiment with the miscanthus, cut some this week and leave the rest for a while. One of them hasn't had last spring's cut yet. 

Hiya nut.  Arundinacea is one I don't like.  It has nice orangey foliage I guess but, for me. It has no other quality.  Spreads too much and looks messy 

I have new shoots on miscanthus but when I cut down I ensure these are safe.  

Oh, I'll be watching out for seedlings of hordeum jubatum to pot up.  This is a beautiful grass with a kaleidoscope of subtle foliage colours in summer.  


Verdun, have you ever tried sowing Hodeum jubatum from fresh seed in Autumn? I tried some for the first time late August and was amazed by how quickly ,and prolificly they germinated. I was able to get them into 9cm pots and now have them in a cold polytunnel. Well worth a try.


I must try that Hordeum.

Verdun, I think S. arundinacea is more suitable for the wilder style of gardening. It suits here.

I had hoped to just take the shears to the miscanthus, rather than be preserving new shoots. When do the new shoots start?

Is the plural of miscanthus still miscanthus, or miscanthuses or even miscanthi



I do it now so that I can use the hedge trimmers to chop down at ground level. I even do that to the evergreen ones every third year. Easier to do when there are no new shoots appearing.



..perennial rule breaker here... I chop down my Miscanthus before mid Dec.... I don't like the straw blowing about the garden all winter... I like to see them frosted up a bit in November but after that... chop with shears... this season I dug up the great clump and left it lying around for about a week before dividing and replanting... it'll survive...

..other grasses I leave till Spring..haven't got that many...

I'm awaiting the availability of a new American one called Schizachyrium 'Prairie Munchkin'.... it's a form of buffalo grass I think...I've grown one such type previously but this looks to be something out of the ordinary...

Hello Hostafan, yes I have grown hordeum from seed and, yes, they do grow amd flower very quickly amd all,summer long.  Lovely grown as a group of 3 or 5.  Simply beautiful.

Salino, don't know that american grass.  Will check it out.  

I must admit to dividing miscanthus every 3 years or so.  keeps them vigorous, compact and easily controlled.  


Make sure you ALWAYS wear gloves, a cut from grass is not very nice. Do not copy Monty Don and run bare hands through grass!

Good point fleurisa. ....ESP some of the flowers on the  sedges.  


Thank you for comments all, very helpful and as ever lots of ideas for other grasses to try. So based on  what is said will tidy the lower leaves of the Stipa gigantea but otherwise just let it get on with growing all by itself.

Pennisetums I have cut back, Thing is everything seems to be in spring mode because of the lack of a cold winter