Nebraska Statewide Arboretum



The Seed

Date of this Version


Document Type



Nebraska Statewide Arboretum P.O. Box 830715 University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE 68583-0715


Too often, groundcovers are not considered when new landscape plantings are installed. Traditionally, the soil surface of new planting beds that incorporate trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials is covered with a 2-3” layer of organic mulch. The organic mulch helps to conserve moisture, control weeds and give the landscape a uniform, finished look. However, it usually takes a number of years before the plants mature, prompting a yearly top-dressing of mulch to keep the open areas covered. This yearly addition of mulch can be relatively expensive and excessive mulch can build up on the soil. It can also be a lot of work to mulch between plants. The dense carpet of leaves, intertwining stems and abundant roots of living mulch can function in many of the same ways as traditional mulches. Moreover, the constant growing, dying and breakdown of living mulch will help build a healthy nutrient rich soil over time.