Ground covers are the forgotten plants of your landscape.

That's understandable because these plants cover large areas and require minimal maintenance. Though most ground covers are relatively easygoing plants and need little upkeep, a few tasks need to be performed to keep them growing optimally.

Ground covers such as liriope, monkey grass, wedelia, Japanese ardisia, Asian jasmine and many ferns probably took a beating this winter from the snow and severely cold nights. They have either died back to the ground or at least suffered freeze damage on the tips.

This brown or damaged material can be cut back now using a string trimmer or even a lawn mower in some cases. Be sure the mower's blades are sharp to get a neat clean cut with minimal damage to the plants. Using a bag attachment on your mower will help with cleanup, and the contents collected can be composted.

Be sure to fertilize your ground cover after pruning. This will encourage new growth. Use a general purpose fertilizer that is appropriate for ground covers, and be sure to water it in immediately after application.

To ensure you are fertilizing properly, have a soil test performed by the LSU Agricultural Center soil testing laboratory. Submission forms and additional information can found at

Cast iron plants, or aspidistra, can also be cut back this time of year. Use pruners to remove brown or yellowing leaves. If your plant hasn’t been trimmed in a while or most of the leaves look poor, consider using hedge shears to remove all of the foliage. This will leave the area looking bare for a time but will generate all fresh growth in the coming weeks.

After pruning and fertilizing, you're done with these plants for the rest of the growing season.

Got a question?