Groundcovers are quite versatile in the landscape. They tolerate adverse conditions, and once established require little care. They are problem solvers that can often thrive in places where lawn will not grow such as shady areas and under trees and are excellent erosion controllers on steep banks. The following information should help you maintain healthy groundcovers.


Groundcovers are mostly low maintenance after regular care for the first few years. Once they are established, they require less maintenance than a lawn does.

A groundcover’s water needs vary, just as with trees and shrubs, depending on the plant, its age, the soil, season, temperature, sun, wind, and pollution. Most of the groundcovers that Hinsdale Nurseries offer, such as vinca, pachysandra, ivy, euonymus, and sedum, should receive an even and thorough soaking after planting to ensure moisture penetration to all roots.

Pay attention to weather conditions, and adjust the amount you’re watering accordingly to ensure successful establishment in the garden. After roots are established, 1 inch per week is sufficient.
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Some plants are slow to become established. Groundcover may take a year or longer to fill in, which can be very inviting to weeds. Once weeds have invaded your groundcover, getting them out becomes increasingly difficult. The best method of weed removal is by hand. Planting groundcover on a tighter spacing for quicker establishment helps minimize weed invasion.
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Many groundcovers are aggressive and may need to be restrained, depending on the nature of your landscape and preference. A formal landscape will require more pruning than an informal one. Aggressive groundcovers include certain spreading junipers and some species of sedum, ivy, etc.

Detailed pruning to achieve a specific shape may require professional help, and you may wish to consult Hinsdale Nurseries experts. We are always happy to help.

Below are guidelines for groundcover maintenance that you can perform, individually:

  • Prune groundcovers in early spring so new growth will quickly cover bare stems. Avoid late autumn pruning because new growth will appear just before winter, often resulting in frost damage to new growing tips.
  • Use hand pruners to remove dead branches and damaged tips. A dead stem will appear brown when scratched with a knife or fingernail. A live stem will appear green.
  • Prune off the damaged parts of pachysandra or other herbaceous evergreens to rid them of winter burn in early spring.
  • Pruning groundcovers such as vinca, pachysandra, ivy, euonymus, and sedum will help keep them dense.
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All groundcovers sold by Hinsdale Nurseries are Zone 5 winter hardy. A few steps will ensure their continued health through the cold months.

Evergreen groundcovers should be well watered until the ground freezes to prevent excessive needle drop or browning. It is common for some evergreen groundcovers to show a brown or purple color throughout the winter. This is a natural process that decreases the stress of harsh winter conditions. It may or may not occur annually and is not a sign of sickness or disease.

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