When How to Cut Pampas Grass

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by Eric La Fountaine, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was recieved via email:

    Hi I live in Washington State and what time of year do you cut down the pampas grass? This year it got all brown and ugly looking. and what do you cut it down with?
    Thank you
    Patti
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hello Patti,

    The time is now, durring its winter dormancy. I am not too expereinced with grasses, but my understanding is that you need to get all the dead stuff cleared away at the base of the plant for them to do well. You should be able to cut them down to 12-18" (30-45cm). Some people burn away the dead stuff at the base, but that is not permitted in most urban areas and requires caution. Wear gloves! The leaves are sharp.

    Here is another thread:
    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=9517&highlight=pampas+grass

    You might want to use the Search Function (on the green bar at the top) to find others.

    Good luck, have fun,
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Heavy-duty leather clothing (to avoid nasty cuts from the sharp grass blades), and stout shears.

    Alternatively, if it is well away from any buildings or other valuable plants, set fire to it. Like most prairie grasses, it is adapted to periodic grass fires and re-grows very well from the roots. The fire clears out all the old dead foliage very effectively, far better than cutting can.

    Now is a good time to proceed.
     
  4. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    only burn every 3 years or so, more often and you will weaken the plant......any time now i'll be attacking mine again, if i remember i'll take some before and after pictures.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Wear protective gear--including that for face and eyes--and cut away old stuff when new growth is underway. Now may be early. Burning may result in only partial recovery, I don't know. I've seen one or two burned clumps that didn't bounce back very well, but don't know if the burning was the cause of this or not. And full sized specimens become quite a large hump of charred matter.
     
  6. t spooner

    t spooner Member

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    Hi I know this is an old subject but for any one who wants to cut a pampas grass down or back without burning it, get out the hedge cutter and it should make the job easy. Good luck from England.
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    I use a standard, sharp gardening machete and rose-pruner's full-length leather gloves. It's also a good idea to wear a leather apron and safety goggles. As I grow the grass in its native habitat, I don't have to deal with dead growth, but when the poomf gets too big I have to trim. The easiest way I've found is to bundle the stalks you want to remove together into a clump with one hand, and chop it through with the machete (the bunch, not your hand) - with practice, the trimming should take less than 1 hour for a large poomf of grass. I usually do this in my rainy season - which would be the equivalent of your winter.

    Best of luck from Ecuador.
     
  8. joep229

    joep229 Member

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    I am in central Texas and I have 4 Northern Pampas grass clumps growing in my front yard. They had been untouched for 3 years and were quite large and messy looking. I decided to, and have recently cut them down with a chain saw to small 1.5' balls. I am wondering if anyone who has done this can comment about what they look like when they come back. Since the tops of all of the blades are cut (I know why they are called blades!), I am curious whether new blades grow or if the cut blades with the ragged tops continue to grow. The center of each ball is filled with cut plume canes up to to 1" in diameter. What happens here in the center of the ball? I don't know if these plants ever really go dormant here although we get numerous winter mornings in the low 20's in this location. They always remain green. I have other grasses that are smaller that go completely brown and I cut them down each winter. They grow back to the same size each year.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  9. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Young ones - a gas hedge shear works, or loppers. A bit hard with hand shears but possible.

    For the biggest and most neglected, I've used my chainsaw about 12" above the soil. I don't like to cut lower because of dirt or stones inside.

    Thankfully I haven't had to cut a pampas grass for maybe half a year.
     

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