Cutting back shrubs and grasses

Garden Life
The following generally applies to grasses: cut back deciduous grasses either in autumn or in spring, evergreens such as great wood-rush (Luzula sylvatica), on the other hand, should be thinned out in spring and dead leaves removed.
Cutting back is recommended in particular in harsh, windy locations and those with expected heavy snowfall. However, this is especially the case for Giant Chinese Silver Grass (Miscanthus x giganteus), as its leaves separate from the stems in good time and may contaminate the bed and its surroundings. Autumn pruning is not appropriate for pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) (especially the pink flowering variety) and other frost-sensitive grasses. These are best tied together in autumn. Surround it with brushwood or a straw mat as frost protection and cut it back only before it buds in spring.

In milder regions with less snow, spring pruning of grasses is more useful, as the hoarfrost in autumn and a light covering of snow in winter make the grasses in the bed seem all the more attractive – especially where they are accentuated with effect lighting.

Pruning of shrubs is carried out in a similar way. Cut back spring shrubs such as Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) as soon as the leaves have turned yellow – the shrub retracts in good time for the summer. Remove the faded inflorescences from blossomed summer shrubs, such as larkspur (Delphinium) at an early stage. Larkspur in particular blossoms again in September. Do not cut back evergreen shrubs, such as wild ginger (Asarum), but thin them out, for example in the case of Bergenia and Christmas rose (Helleborus). This is also the case for garden ferns: cut the summer-green plants back in autumn and thin out the evergreen ones in spring.

Tip: In near-natural gardens, you can leave seed stems of shrubs where they are during the winter months so that insects can spend the winter in them and in hollow shrub stalks. Especially in spring, garden birds often seek out these stalk remnants for their prey.