Fall and Winter Care for Ornamental Grasses

October 7, 2016

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Motion, texture, winter interest and wildlife appeal describe the beauty and value of ornamental grasses in the landscape.  Providing the proper fall and winter care will ensure you get the most from these low maintenance beauties.

Continue to water new plantings thoroughly when needed throughout the fall. Once established most ornamental grasses are drought tolerant and only need to be watered during extended dry periods.

Allow the grasses to stand for winter. They provide food and shelter for visiting birds and beneficial insects. Plus, you will enjoy the added beauty in your winter landscape.

Cut the plants back in late winter before growth begins. Use a hand pruner, shears or hedge trimmers for this task.   Or comb the dead leaves out of the shorter grass plants. Simply run your fingers through the new growth removing the older leaves with this motion. Add the leaves and seedheads you remove to the compost pile.

A bit more information:  Keep plants healthy throughout the growing season with proper care. Water established plants during extended dry periods. Spread a one- to two-inch layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material over the soil surface to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Be sure to keep mulch off the crown of the plant to avoid rot. Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite in spring, as growth begins, if plants need a nutrient boost. Over fertilization can result in floppy growth.

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