“In the fall, many of the ornamental grasses that looked so nice over the summer are beginning to look a little shabby and worn. Can they be cut back now, or should I wait until colder weather?” -Bill

Traditionally, ornamental grasses are cut back in the late winter or early spring, for two main reasons:

  • The dormant foliage provides some winter interest in an otherwise bare garden.
  • The foliage provides some insulating protection from cold and soaking rains.

The cold protection is important if you are planting grasses only marginally hardy to your zone. Leaving the foliage over the winter can insulate the plant and increase its chances of surviving the winter. The foliage also shields water from the crown, helping to prevent rot.

If you live in a warmer climate, or if you are planting grasses that are winter hardy in your zone, when to cut them back is really a matter of preference. Some gardeners like the “neat and tidy” look over the winter, while others like the swaying and crackling grasses in the landscape. In warmer areas, cutting grasses back in the fall can actually stimulate next year’s growth, giving you an early start next season.


Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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