How to divide and replant ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are used in the landscape as borders, to fill empty zones between other plantings, or in groups for a focal point. Capable of growing 1 to 12 feet tall, the blades of ornamental grasses may be green, red or variegated. Some ornamental grasses, like fountain grass, are topped with foxtail-like plumes that wave in the breeze. Other ornamental grasses, like Japanese blood grass with its red blades, can look like streamers of color rising from the ground. Ornamental grass that has been growing for at least four years can be propagated by dividing and replanting the root clump. Even if you don't want to plant more ornamental grass, digging up and dividing the clump every four or five years and replanting one section will keep the plant full by removing the dead inner core.

Before Digging Up Ornamental Grass

Prune ornamental grass to about 4 inches above the ground in late winter. Short grasses can be clipped with hedge clippers while tall grasses, which may have sturdy stems, can be cut back using a saw or hand pruners.

How to Dig Up Ornamental Grass

Dig up the clump by pushing a garden spade straight down about 6 inches from the crown of the plant, where the stems meet the roots. Continue digging down and around the plant. A knife or hand pruners may be needed to sever long reaching roots. Force the spade beneath the plant and lift it out onto the ground.

Dividing the Clump

Use the point of the spade or a saw to divide the clump into four fairly equal sections. Pull or cut off and discard the portion of each section that was previously the center of the plant.

Replanting the Divisions of the Ornamental Grass Clump

Replant the sections in the same sunlight condition, like full sun, by digging a hole as deep as the root ball is tall. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball to loosen soil for better root penetration. Place the root ball in the ground so the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Adjust the amount of soil in the bottom of the hole if needed. Backfill the hole with the removed soil. Water the newly planted sections and cover the area with 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like pine chips.