Garden News: Rejuvenate ground covers

Late winter is a good time to think about ground covers, and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gil gives two reasons for this.

First, this is an excellent time to trim your ground covers to rejuvenate and refresh them. Even evergreen ground covers like monkey grass often get a lot of brown leaves built up in them over time.

By cutting them back to within a few inches of the ground, you can stimulate lots of fresh, healthy new growth and get that plant looking good again.

Second, this is a superb time to plant hardy ground covers into the landscape. Gill says if you have an area that’s gotten too shady and the grass won’t grow or if you have an area where you think ground cover might add a beautiful landscape effect, now is a great time to do that.

“Make sure you look at the growing conditions,” Gill says. “We have ground covers that are really good for shady areas and ground covers that are really good for sunny areas. So make sure you look at the growing conditions of the area so when you go to the nursery the staff can help you choose the right kind.”

Some of the more common ground covers used in Louisiana include Aztec grass with bright, variegated foliage that’s good in sun to part shade. Liriope — or lily turf — is good for sun to part shade, too.

Japanese ardisia is a shade-loving plant for areas where the sun doesn’t reach.

And monkey grass is a reliable ground cover for shady spots, especially large areas. You can get it in a dwarf form, too.

Finally, Asian jasmine is a great plant for shady or sunny areas as well.

“You have lots of choices,” Gill says. “Just make sure you check your growing conditions before you go to the nursery.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.