Monday, April 11, 2011

Cutting and Disposal of Tall, Dry Ornamental Grasses by Gardener Dave

Many ornamental grasses grow quite tall, to 5 feet and even much taller. They can remain quite attractive during the winter in their erect dry state, unless the snow breaks them down. Then they become messy. However, they can be cut down and disposed of after they are dried, in the fall, winter or early spring.

Handling these long dry grasses once they are cut off can be very messy, as the dry blades are pesky to chase and pick up, especially if it’s windy. Why chase loose blades when there is a better way?

Bundle them before cutting, using long (approx. 3-foot) plastic “Zip Ties”. These are available at the “Big Box” stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s in packages of 10 or so.  You can put two or more of these ties together end to end to make an even longer tie if you need it for really big grass clumps. Place the ties about halfway up the grass bundle. Tighten them gradually as you cut through the stalks – I prefer using an electric hedge trimmer for cutting at about 4-6 inches above the ground – and you will wind up with a tight, compact bundle that is easy to handle and dispose of. 

The long plastic ties are not cheap, but they can be removed and re-used, and the bundles tied with twine, etc. for disposal.  After tying the bundle tightly with something else, insert the tip of a small flat screwdriver into the plastic tie where the “zipper” locks, and it can be easily “unzipped” and removed for re-use. 

I prefer to leave a shorter, cheaper plastic tie on the bundle if my trash pickup will be several days in the future. The plastic tie can be easily re-tightened if the bundle shrinks, whereas cord or twine is not that easily re-tightened and may allow much of the dried grass to slip out when someone tries to pick it up later.

I hope you find this “grass handling hint” useful. I have chased too many loose dry ornamental grass leaves all over my yard in the wind to do this job any other way!

Gardener Dave