Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune Groundcover

mossy groundcover image by Undy from

Pruning of ground cover often goes overlooked, even by those who often remember to prune trees and shrubs. Ground cover left untended will become overgrown and may choke out other plant life. This is especially true of vines. When kept pruned, ground cover not only looks better but also makes for a healthier garden or landscape. Don't let something as simple as occasional pruning cause damage to the health of your plants.

Prune vines and other ground cover whenever they take on an unattractive appearance due to overgrowth. You should also prune when they begin to harbor wasps or other unwanted insects or animals, as well as when trash or lawn debris begins to collect in the growth.

Clip ground cover with hedge clippers when there's only a small bit of growth which can easily be handled in this way. Ground cover tends to be hardy and will spring back to life quickly, so don't be afraid to trim it all the way down to an inch or so above ground. This method should also be used for vines growing over trees or walls.

Mow larger portions of ground cover that cannot be easily pruned by hand with a lawnmower.

Sharpen the blades before using the mower to prune ground cover when they are not already sharp. Dull blades will cause the lawnmower to pull the ground cover out of the dirt by the roots, killing it. You want to cut the foliage, not rip it out of the ground.

Set the mower to the highest setting and then mow the ground cover. According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, this should be done preferably in early spring, before new leaves have begun to grow.

Garden Guides