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Making easy work of the annual cutting back process

My garden is a prairie style planting with lots of perennial grasses and perennials (salvia, aster, agastache etc).  The cutting back process in the autumn, using secateurs, takes forever.  I was wondering if a cordless hedge trimmer would be a labour saving way of achieving the same task. Any thoughts?


  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,705
    Most perennial grasses should not be cut back in Autumn, they should be left for winter interest. Evergreen grasses should not be cut back at all, simply tidied up in the Spring.
    How can you lie there and think of England
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    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • KJPKJP Posts: 14
    hi, punkdoc.  Sorry, I was being imprecise.  I cut my deciduous grasses back at the end of Jan/early Feb.  Same question applies.  
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,234
    A brushcutter would be better, it would go through things like Miscanthus easier than a hedge trimmer I think. I would do that in spring, and do minor tidy up jobs with secateurs/shears, leaving the vast majority of seed heads and grasses to stand over winter.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,234
    (I realise that standing perennials don't always look as pretty as they do in books and can verge on depressing, but they are still valuable for wildlife).
  • KJPKJP Posts: 14
    Hi Loxley - I guess that was at the root of my question - would a hedge-cutter be powerful enough to get through stands of Miscanthus etc?  The idea was triggered by a YouTube clip showing someone cutting back a stand if grasses using a cordless hedge cutter.  My concerns with a brushcutter were, in no particular order, weight, manoeuvrability, and cost!  To your point re seed-heads - this is a process that takes from late October to early March, so there’s plenty of seed heads and shelter for wildlife for most of the winter.  And if I could automate it, I could leave it later!
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,901
    edited September 2020
    They do say that a disposable barbecue left to die down does a wonderful job.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • SuesynSuesyn Posts: 630
    There is a prarie style garden at Hauser and Wirth in Bruton, designed by Piet Oudorf, which was on Gardeners World a couple of years ago. They said the maintenance was really easy as it is densely planted and they just strim the whole lot in February /March.
    It's a fabulous garden (cafe not bad either) and I love it. 
  • Not sure if they're still setting fire to everything in late winter but check out this article on Sussex Prairies that mentions the technique they employ,
    If you haven't visited this particular garden I would say it's a "must see". 8 acres of wonderful planting and very welcoming hosts to boot. They are currently open 6 days a week, with social distancing measures in place.
  • In the recent Piet Oudoulf film it showed his own prairie garden been out to bed. They strimmed it all down and then went over it with a mower (admittedly a large sit on one)
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • KJPKJP Posts: 14
    Thanks all  - the Hauser Wirth garden is definitely on my list and I'll check out Sussex Prairies.  I 'm not quite sure how the neighbours would feel about setting fire to the garden though!  I'm not a purist, so I have roses and a few shrubs planted through the borders too - hence the need for a tool that is fairly controllable/precise.
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