1. Can’t make it to the GIE+EXPO 2017?
    LawnSite brings the trade show floor to your fingertips with our new GIE+EXPO 2017 Sneak Peek video series debuting now in the Lawn Mowing forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Transplanting Large Ornamental Grasses?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Darryl G, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Hey guys! I got a call to provide an estimate for transplanting 2 large ornamental grasses. I've removed/transplanted all sorts of shrubs and trees but never ornamental grasses. My only experience that comes close is "stealing" from the outside edges of them for new transplants and it was way more difficult than I expected. I resorted to using a hatchet and was surprised how deep the roots went down.

    These grasses are pretty big, 3 to 4 feet across and 6 feet tall and in a corner of the house. On first thought I was thinking of about $200 bucks for the job but I'm concerned that it's going to end up being a pretty tough job to do by hand...big large heavy root balls...and a machine really isn't an option I don't think due to their location next to the house. Am I exaggerating the difficulty of digging these babies up?

    I just don't want to under bid it and end up there all day and have root balls I can't move and of course don't want to over bid it either, but i'd rather error on the high side and not get it. I do have a hand truck but not a nursery cart.

    Thanks in advance for any insight. Your thoughts/experience?
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    If they are that big, then I suggest just taking a 1' x 1' split off of them and transplanting those.

    Then either kill off the rest or just hack away and remove them with no worries.

    Even at their current size, it's going to be extremely hard to get one large root-ball out of them without splitting them.

    Grasses generally are prolific growers, so even a smaller split will only take a season or two to get back to mature size.

  3. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,511

    You are correct... Moving the entire thing by hand would be a massive pain. Massive.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Ok, thanks guys....yeah, kinda what I thought.

    The reason they're being moved is that they just don't belong where they are. I think White's recommendation of just saving part of them is probably the best bet.

    MMADDUX LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    Thats right.. I chop some in half nearly every year. I have even used and old hand saw to cut them up. Good luck.
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    The Victory Garden had a good episode that showed a guy using a battery operated saw-zaw to cut and split grasses. He even used it to cut out dead centers in the middle of some clumps and threw dirt back in to help them fill the centers out again.


    MMADDUX LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    I believe that. Grasses are a pain to split. Have you ever hear of anyone burning them to keep them from dying in the center?
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    No, never actually heard of that. I know people do that in general (in the right locations of course) do it just as it's easier to deal with the mess that way in the late fall or early spring.

    I think we even discussed the burning method in my Master Gardners course, but the centers were never part of the discussion.

    Over my few years of experience it just seems that there are some that are more susceptible to the centers dieing and some not.

  9. VO Landscape Design

    VO Landscape Design LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Mt. Pleasant Ia.
    Messages: 365

    When you divide them up expect the remaining plants you transplant to look a bit wimpy. Seems to me when ever I split ornamental grasses they look like they are dieing back, but they bounce back later. For something that handles the sun they seem to be temperamental when divided.
  10. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    older ornamental grasses will decline from center out even when properly cared for. They should be divided when this starts. This is what we use they are expensive as hell but they pay for themselves and I never regretted the investment. I have 2 of them. These baby's will cut through a dence Maiden grass in a instant. I had damaged the motor on one of them in a freak accident I called the factory and They FedEx a new motor overnight I was impressed with their instant customer service. These are not cheap tools they are built big time. So if you just occasionally transplant they might not be for you.

    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

Share This Page