Fall is No Time for a Haircut
Just about the time the leaves start falling, professional landscape maintenance crews move out to ready ornamental plant beds for the winter, and many of them make a huge mistake. They cut back ornamental grass clumps close to the ground. It shows a lack of understanding for the plant material.
Ornamental grasses look fine during the growing season, but they shine brightest during the winter, providing burnt gold and orange waves of graceful skirts of foliage. It is a wonderful way to provide color and winter interest. The fruiting plumes often persist until early spring. These are visual characteristics meant to be highlighted during the dormant season, when all the other plants are either evergreen or denuded sticks. Ornamental grasses provide great architectural drama to a landscape.
Wait until early February to cut back tufts of ornamental grasses, a few weeks before they begin sprouting fresh blades. If you wait too late, you’ll damage the new growth, so take care to avoid this when chopping back the old! Typically, it is best to clean out garden debris before cold weather sets in to avoid pests and disease, but the aesthetic contribution made by ornamental grasses all winter makes the waiting a worthwhile tradeoff.