Ornamental grass seasonal maintenance

Miscanthus sinensis yakushima dwarf

This dwarf variety of miscanthus sinensis (Silvergrass) is used a soft screen. Although it is a dwarf plant it still gets to around 1.5m at it’s full height in summer. Due to the lockdown period it missed it late winter/ early Spring cut back so we are going to cut back now instead. The flower spikes are still looking good at the moment but I fear by June they will have started to decay and collapse inhibiting the new flower spikes from reaching their potential in summer and giving strong winter structure.


  • Shears – the most important tool for this job. Sharp, well oiled with good handle grips.
  • Secateurs – for stubborn stems or branches from encroaching plants need snipping out.
  • Weed grubber- invariably weeds will have started growing around the base of the plant. Although not a major problem this is the time to dissuade them from taking up residence there.
  • Springbok rake – use this to rake out the cut stems and the thatch from around the base of the plants

Because the plants are being cut back later than they usually would be I am not going as short as I would otherwise. I am cutting back the flower spike’s and trimming the leaves rather than cutting the whole plant right back down.

Using the Springbok rake remove the material from the top of the grass and the thatch from around the base.
At this point you can make a decision as to whether the sides should be given another clip with the shears. This is more of question of how you want it to look until the plant grows back.
At this stage I decided to put some Dahlia tubers in along the front of the Miscanthus to give some summer interest if the flower spikes were delayed. These are planted with crown of the tuber sitting just at the soil level or protruding a little.

Because the canopy has been reduced and thatch (plant debris) has been removed there is space and light available for weeds to take hold and the moisture will evaporate easier. I have for a coverage of a couple of inches of smart ground cover mulch to help keep the weeds down and the moisture in. I find this the most effective groud cover when I know I won’t be back for a while.

Author Auberon Bayley Cultivate London Schools Officer

Ornamental grass seasonal maintenance
Using power tools