This is one dangerous time of year. With things waking up quickly and warm days beckoning, it’s time to get out and tame the most savage beasts in the garden: ornamental grasses. Oh, sure, roses can be cruel – cutting them back leaves my arms so scratched I look like a catfight gone bad and more than once, sitting to rest, I end up jumping and shimmying around, trying to find the thorn caught in my jeans.
But at least their canes stay in one piece when I clip them; cut grasses down and they shatter, their blades going everywhere. This is not fun. Their leaves are serrate – “toothed” in the perky lingo of catalogs -and in the real world, this means razor-edged and ready to slice your hand open.
Fortunately I have friends in the Green Industry, the business devoted to caring for plants. They’ve given me the secret to trimming big grasses without a trip to the emergency room. All you need to do is wear long sleeves and gloves, then grab pruners or hedge clippers, and ….bungee cords.
Go out and look that grass in the eye. Shake out the bungee cord and wrap it around the bunch, up where it lifts the leaves high, so that it looks like a sheaf of wheat.
Prune large grasses off six inches from the soil, smaller grasses off at four inches high. Hand pruners work on small-to-medium sized stalks; if you have really BIG grass, such as the large Miscanthus or Pampas, hedge trimmers do a great job. Wear eye protection.