How dot you cut OG without killing yourself??

growitnowFebruary 28, 2005

Hello all,

I have six Zebra grass clumps, each about 7 ft tall. Every Spring I cut back to about 8 inches from ground. They are great plants and add to the landscape.

But I kill myself each year getting in there and snipping away at such a dense mass at the base. I have tried cutting with electric hedge shears (joke), a recipricating saw (didn't work) and a chain saw (worked O.K. but reeds/grass catches in blade and needed constant cleaning of saw during job).

So I'm wondering, how do you do your annual cutting back on taller / larger grasses? Am I missing something or is that just the price to pay for having large OG?

Many thanks,

Bob

growitnowgrowitnow

zone7 VA

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gardengal48

With the exception of pampas grass, I have not found it to be too much of a burden. I tie the remaining dried fronds together and use sheep shears (or look just like 'em and are sold at most garden centers here and are invaluable for trimming or shearing - not pruning - just about anything). An established clump of pampas grass does require some heavy equipment/power tools and some protective clothing as well.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 10:28PM
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BruMeta(z5aNY)

Miscanthus? Just hand-held hedge clippers, well sharpened. And since gardengal uses them, I will try sheep shears this year. (Just got a good pair from rockspray.com.)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 7:10PM
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sbeuerlein(zone 6)

If you are strong, sensible, and sober, you can buy and attach circular saw blades to Stihl and other professional grade string trimmers. Blades made for this purpose are available at Stihl dealerships. These, as you might guess, cut through a clump of grass like butter. They do likewise with 3" saplings and 4" human legs. Please use extreme caution if you choose to do this. Don't choose to do this if you realistically aren't physically able to control the tool.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 7:35PM
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gardengal48

BruMeta - you'll love them!! They are one of my favorite gardening tools. I use them to cut back grasses as indicated, edge the grass along flower beds and shear back heathers, lavender, spiraea, helianthemum, removing the old foliage on epimediums in late winter and just about anything else that needs a light trimming. Also great for fall clean up - cutting back perennials, etc.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 8:13PM
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growitnow

Thanks for these suggestions. I am not really familiar with sheep shears and therefore don't know what the gardening analog might be; sound useful though.

sbeuerlein, thanks for the suggestion, and wise cautions. I have a Ryobi trimmer but have not seen any such saw blade attachment, will look in to this.

I have used various garden clippers in the past. Works fine but is neither quick nor fun. Just seeking ways to be more efficient , whatever I'm doing can't be that efficient if I'm swearing under my breath while I'm doing it :)

Cheers,

Bob

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 9:24PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

I've always done it with hand pruners. But as you said, it can be quite a chore.

This year, I used a mid-size electric hedge trimmer. Slick! (Wish I had begun using them years ago!)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 10:34PM
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gardengal48

Bob, these are the shears I was referring to. If you do a Google search under "garden tools, sheep shears", you'll turn up a good number of mail order sources. They are an amazingly efficient utensil and can be sharpened easily. And are very fast and easy for cutting back OG's.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 9:04AM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

I have 50 plus large miscanthus mature grasses and the electric hedge shears work like a charm. i cut mine down as low as possible, leaving only an inch or two. 8 inches will be noticeable when the new growth comes up and theres all those dead grass spikes at the bottom. i started using the elec hedge shears when i was wishing i had a chainsaw and it occured to me that i DID have the next best thing. saves a lot of the bending and back ache too. if yours dont do well you may need to sharpen the blades. I will say that some muscle is still required but at least my poor hands arent hurting like crazy from hand clipping all of them. (i also have to clip ravenna grass, arundo donax variegata, panicums, indian grass, the fountain grasses and tons of smaller grasses as well)
there is always the burning off method too but im afraid my crabby neighbor would love to turn me in!!

the sheep shears dont look as if theyd be much better than hand clippers on the tall grasses when doing a ton of them. but think i might get some and try them out as regular pruners. they look kinda cool.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 12:53PM
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SissyZeke

I have eight rather large clumps of Miscathus. It takes half the family to give these a hair cut!
My son has the hedge trimmers, my daughter and I grab the grass, she takes half and I take half. We are all dressed in long sleeved flannel shirts with suede gloves on. My son starts the hedge trimmer about six inches above the ground. When we feel the grass cut away from the plant, we shove it into the bin and run back to get another bunch.
I have found if you just cut this and let it fall, you could never get it all out of your landscape!
If you don't wear protection, it looks like you were playing with a sword, and the sword wins!!

Sissy

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 11:56AM
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kvolk(5aUt)

For smaller grasses I just use the pruning shears but for my norhterm Pampas grass and other larger grasses the chain saw works great for me. I tie them together and then in about 3 seconds it is cut down and ready for the fire.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 7:49AM
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dougiefresh(9 TX)

As mentioned, electric hedge trimmers work great for trimming grasses for me too. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 4:00PM
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Eakr(MD6b/7a)

I replace the string attachment on my Stihl weedwacker with a brush cutting attachment(similar to/but not the same as a 7 inch circular saw steel blade);it accomplishes the job quickly and easily. Make certain the blade shield is securely attached to the weedwacker side which faces your shoes. Never use a brush cutting attachment with someone else in the area. I say this because I have broken a number of teeth off of a brush cutting blades by hitting small stones. You never know when a tooth will break and fly off, the blade guard will protect you from this misfortune but not necessarily someone else in the area.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 8:15PM
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richardl(UK south)

With a massive health warning!

I find by the far the best means of removing the old growth is a simple match - ie. burn the dead growth away.

Clearly this can only be done in certain circumstances - you need space, distant neighbors and no vulnerable plants mixed in.
If you can do it safely; it works brilliantly with Micanthus, Pennisetum, and Pampas. Don't use fire with evergreen, or Carex varieties.
I burn my miscanthus and pennisetum every year, the Pampas about every third year.

Please note my warning - this method is probably is not the right way for you but it works for me.

Cheers
Richard

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 2:24AM
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WendyB(5A/MA)

are the sheep shears easier on the hands than pruners?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2005 at 4:38PM
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kidhorn(7a MD)

I use my electric trimmer by myself. Never had a problem. The burning methods sounds tempting. I don't think my neighbors would care since they're a good distance away. If an electric trimmer doesn't work, what about a simple hacksaw?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 1:36PM
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greenhummer(zone 5,Ohio)

I use a gas hedge trimmer,fast and simple

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 9:48PM
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