Growing Pachysandra in a Shady Area
Roger Cook gives some advice on planting the smart groundcover
We'd like to grow pachysandra in a large, shady area that's filled with weeds. How should we go about it? —Diane Durant, South Dartmouth, Mass.
Pachysandra, also known as Japanese spurge, is an ideal groundcover where there's partial or deep shade. Given adequate moisture and well-draining, slightly acidic soil, these low-maintenance evergreens will grow into patches so dense that they choke out most weeds. Even better, deer find pachysandra distasteful and will usually pass it up.
To give your new groundcover a good start, strip away the weeds with a grub hoe and rototill compost into the soil about 5 inches down. If you're buying flats at the nursery, spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the prepared soil, then dig through it to plant the individual sprigs about 5 inches apart. Push the mulch around each one.
Water them twice a week—three times in dry weather—until their roots are established, and pull any weeds that pop up. In about three years, these sprigs will grow into a lush, green mat.
—This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook