Ornamental Grass – The hidden danger no-one has told you about

Ornamental grass. Beautiful and easy to care for I must say. Ornamental grass can really make a statement in your landscape and not many insects or diseases affect them, that is why I love them. However, I recently discovered something that I never knew about ornamental grasses. They can be dangerous!

Not so dangerous as to be detrimental to your health, but dangerous enough to cause a bit of discomfort. Let me explain:

I recently decided to divide a few of my ornamental grasses. They have been in the landscape for a few years and have gotten to be fairly large. The day was quite warm, so I removed my shirt to stay a bit cooler. I grabbed my trusty square edge spade and started hacking into the first clump of grass. It was a Maiden Grass called “Gracillimus”. It was a little tough cutting through the root system, but I kept at it and succeeded in removing a few clumps that I planted in my landscape.

Next was a few Silver Grasses. Strictus, Little Dot, Graziella, and Malepartus, followed by a few Fountain Grasses which included one called Hameln.

I got them all divided and placed in the landscape and was quite happy with my success, however, I soon discovered the hidden danger in dividing ornamental grasses.

Shortly after placing the last clump of grass in the landscape, I started to have a burning/itching feeling on my shoulders and back. You know the type, the kind you used to get when you were a kid and rolled on the lawn without a shirt. It was driving me crazy!

I took a look at my shoulders to find a fair amount of red scratches. Each scratch burned and itched like hell!

I then realized that as I was cutting through the rootball of each clump of grass, I had placed my shoulders and back under the blades of grass to support them as I cut the roots. This resulted in the blades resting on my skin as I worked. I never realized the blades of grass were as sharp as knives! Each blade of grass is like a small knife, cutting right into the skin as it comes in contact with it. As I was concentrating on cutting through the roots of the grass with my spade, the blades were slowly cutting into my skin, which resulted in hundreds of small cuts. Once I was done with the dividing and planting of the grass, I discovered my shoulders and back were stinging, and ended up itching and stinging for about 45 minutes.

I will NEVER divide any ornamental grass without a shirt on again. The burning and itching was enough to make me crazy. No amount of scratching or even a cool shower helped. I just dealt with it until I either started to ignore it or the discomfort faded, but I can’t really say which it was. Take it from me, wear a shirt when dividing your ornamental grasses to avoid the “hidden danger” of dividing ornamental grass..

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49 Responses to Ornamental Grass – The hidden danger no-one has told you about

  1. tim vuyanich says:

    I almost had the same happen to myself, however I did have a shirt on. I was helping a friend to let there dogs out when they go to there sons. Now I’m checking out there 11 large grass’s through there large yard. Ok they will never miss a bunch from a few batch’s. By the time that I cussed, swetted, smacked in the face with a number of leaves, I did get a small shovel of roots to break loose. I put it in the car, then my arms started, then my face, I husseled to the hose to wash my arms & face off to no avil. went into the house, stright to the kitchen sink, only dish soap (dawn) finally took the itch away. He has no idea that I had tried to dig some up, I was on the side of the train tracks, out of view. Now for the topper, Larry says to me last week, I’m going to be getting a lot of grass as soon as he gets a backhoe to dig them up. If that does not happen before next spring, I’ll wait till he cuts the grass all off after winter to dig any more.

  2. Pepindale says:

    Sorry to hear you were wounded by your ornamental grass! It can be dangerous stuff sometimes.

    • Dwayne says:

      Thanks. The wounds were not serious, just irritating and surprising. I never gave a thought that the blades would cut like that.

      Very informative website you have, by the way.