Harlem resident Tom Blalock doesn’t have any special method for pruning back his pampas grass, but recently he put three methods to the test to see which one would provide the best results.
“I usually just get out my long-handled bypass garden shears and cut it off a few inches from the ground,” said Blalock. “My wife, Ann, says to use a chain saw and burn the stubble after cutting it about 6 to 8 inches high. This removes the excess dead material. We’ll have to see who has the best idea, but I don’t think I’ll see her using the chain saw. Maybe she can use an electric saw.”
Walter Reeves, a noted expert on most things gardening-related, says pampas grass should be pruned this time of year. Pampas grass, which can easily grow to a height of 8 feet in a single season, is an ornamental grass with long stalks that shoot up from clumps of leaves. The leaves each hold a flower plume that can rise to 3 feet above their stems. Some plants have been known to reach a width of 13 feet and a height of 20 feet.
Because the grass grows so big each year, it is recommended to cut it back in the winter. Reeves suggests cutting the grass back to about 12 inches in January or February, but advises against burning the grass. He also recommends dividing the clump into thirds every three years. While Reeves doesn’t suggest the easiest way to prune the grass, he does note that it’s important to prune it every year, if possible.
“I try to prune it every year to keep it from getting too thick and hard to prune,” said Blalock, who recently experimented with various ways to trim back his plant.
“I’ve tried three methods and all seem to work,” he said. “The bypass pruner is the best for quality results. The hedge trimmer requires a little bit of persistence to cut thick clumps.”
But the method that worked the best for him?
“The electric chain saw,” he said. “My wife Ann is right. As much as I hate to say it, it’s the most comfortable to use and gives good results.”