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March 2012

QuestionI would like to transplant a big clump of decorative grass to a place in my yard that is near a water pipe. Should I be concerned about roots growing into the pipe? I ask because my neighbor has been told by a plumber that crape myrtle roots have caused her extensive plumbing problems. Now I'm paranoid about planting anything near pipes!


AnswerRoots can’t grow into a pipe unless the pipe has a hole in it or is cracked. Roots don’t break pipes, but if the pipe is damaged, they take advantage of the hole or crack and invade. I don’t think there should be reason to worry about planting ornamental grass.

Dec. 2009

QuestionI have quite a few ornamental grasses in my garden, including the perennial pampas grass, purple muhly grass and miscanthus, but I also have some of the new annual grasses. Do I do anything different when cutting those back? Could I cut the grasses back this fall or do I need to wait until February?


AnswerOrnamental grasses of all types are at their peak of glory in the fall and winter. Even though the tops of both the annuals and perennials are dead after a killing frost, we like to leave the foliage and plumage out there for winter color, texture and interest. Cutting them back before new growth begins in late February gives you the most enjoyment out of them. It won’t hurt the plant to be cut back now, but it won’t be very attractive in your garden. As to the annuals, pulling up the whole plant, roots and all in the spring before you replant is all that is needed.


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