General gardening topics

How to prune pampas grass

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So if like me you have a thing for pampas grass, and let’s be realistic, not many plants make as much as a bold statement as pampas grass do. If you have one in your garden, you’re going to get to a point where you think to yourself, it’s time to prune that pampas grass as its gets out of control and starting to look a little unsightly.

That was me five years after planting my first pampas grass and at around 6-7ft tall, it was time for a prune. So in this guide and going to explain when and how to go about pruning pampas grass.

If you would rather watch a video, then check out the video below where I about when to prune pampas grass and how I did it.

Did you know one variety of pampas grass can be grown in a container, check out which type you can grow in containers here

When to Prune

Pampas grass is best pruned in late winter and can be pruned back once a year once it is established. Ideally, you want to prune around late February, March or even early April as I recently did. If you prune them late winter this means you can still enjoy those fantastic flumes they are so famous for.

Pampas grass in need of a hard pruning
Pampas grass in need of a hard pruning

Pruning pampas grass

So for the few years, you usually don’t need to hard prune pampas grass, in fact, it was 5 years until I pruned my own pampas grass back hard. Previously I just gave it a general tidy up, remove dead leaves, remove the old flower spikes and it was looking good again.

However, once it’s established, it’s actually better to give it a hard prune every year or at least every other year. You can cut them back to near ground level but ideally, you want to cut it back and try to leave the new growth. They are very forgiving plants so don’t worry too much, it really is hard to do any serious damage to them.

Pampas after pruning
Pampas after pruning

Pampas grass has very sharp foliage so this is not something you want to tackle in your shorts and T-shirt. Make sure you have a good pair of gloves, a long sleeve shirt or coat and even some safety glasses before attempting to prune a large pampas grass.

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What tools you need

Pampas grass has very thick stems so you need something substantial to cut through them. I usually use a hedge trimmer to trim the side foliage off quickly although you can use a good pair of garden shears and you will need a pair of garden loppers to cut through the thick stems.

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Before you set at the pampas grass with a pair of shears or a hedge trimmer, check for any animals that make have made them home inside, I actually found a large toad living at the base of mine which I moved to safety.

So I find it easier to first remove all the side foliage using a pair of garden shears or even a hedge trimmer which is my tool of choice for this. This makes it much easier to get in there with the loppers to cut back the main stems afterwards.

So in terms of how far to prune pampas grass back, I cut mine back to around 2ft but you could easily cut them back to as low as 1ft from the ground with no issues what so ever.

Pampas grass after pruning hard

Don’t forget to remove new side clumps to avoid overcrowding

When you do your annual pruning you might notice new clumps of pampas grass forming their own, smaller clumps off to one side or another. You want to remove these when you do your regular pruning so that your pampas grass in an overcrowded and it just helps keep it a little more under control.


Last update on 2021-07-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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