How to plant monkey grass

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Also known as Mondo grass, monkey grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), is a durable, densely growing evergreen groundcover that tolerates a variety of tough growing conditions, including poor soil, drought and deer. Monkey grass, which reaches heights of about 6 inches at maturity, is often a good choice for under trees and other areas where regular lawn grass won’t grow. Monkey grass is suitable for planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture growing zones 7 through 11.

Prepare the spot in early spring. Although autumn is an acceptable planting time, planting in spring allows time for the roots to establish before hot weather. Find an area with full shade or filtered sunlight as too much sunlight causes the foliage to turn pale green.

Dig weeds from the planting area as weeds compete with the monkey grass for available soil nutrients and moisture. Alternatively, remove weeds by applying a systemic herbicide one to two weeks before planting. Glyphosate is an example of an effective, non-residual herbicide.

Spade or till the soil to a depth of at least 8 to 10 inches. Rake out large dirt clods and stones.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic material such as decomposed manure, peat moss or compost over the surface of the soil. Dig the material evenly into the soil.

Dig in a balanced garden fertilizer with a ratio such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Apply the fertilizer at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 pounds for each 100 square feet of planting space.

Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the width of the plant’s root ball. Remove the plant from its nursery container and place it in the hole. Situate the plant so the soil is level with the top of the root ball.

Fill the hole with soil, and then pat the soil gently around the roots.

Water monkey grass immediately after planting, providing sufficient water to saturate the roots. Continue to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, until new growth appears, which indicates the plant has taken root. Thereafter, soak the soil thoroughly every two to three weeks, or whenever the soil is dry. When the weather is hot and dry or unusually windy, the plant may need water as often as once every week. Don’t water the plant if the soil is still moist from the previous irrigation.

Shear monkey grass in early spring to remove shaggy, unsightly growth and clear space for new growth.

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You might find one of two types of monkey grass aping each other in gardens — lily turf (Liriope spp.) and mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus). Although they share a common name, the sizes, shapes and growth habits of these grassy lily plant family members have different spacing requirements.

Two Types of Monkey Grass

Lily turf and mondo grass are commonly mistaken for one another, but on second glance, their differences are clear. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, mondo grass is a suitable ground cover for shady areas. The leaves, which resemble grass, curve backward.

The two primary lily turf species have distinctive growth habits. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, big blue lily turf (Liriope muscari) grows in clumps across its perennial range in USDA zones 5 through 10. The Missouri Botanical Garden points out that creeping lily turf (Liriope spicata) actually spreads as a ground cover in USDA zones 4 through 10.

Clumping Monkey Grass

Because blue lily turf has a 1-foot spread, space plants 12 inches apart to form a continuous border around flower beds or islands. Some newer cultivars are improved variations of the species, such as ‘Cleopatra’ (Liriope muscari ‘Cleopatra’), a perennial in USDA zones 5 through 9. ‘Cleopatra’ has dark green leaves and grows 24 inches tall, compared to a maximum height of 18 inches of the species. Space ‘Cleopatra’ further apart — 15 inches — to accommodate its mature spread, instead of the standard 12-inch spacing of the species.

In USDA zones 6 through 11, ‘Silvery Sunproof’ (Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’) is rated by many nursery growers as the best variegated liriope cultivar because of its suitability for sunny or shady areas, and because it has the highest concentration of white coloration of the variegated cultivars. Washington State University’s Clark County Extension points out that the ‘Silvery Sunproof’ has a 1-foot spread, so it’s best to space the plants 12 inches apart.

Spreading Monkey Grass

Although blue lily turf keeps a tidy clumping habit, creeping lily turf may aggressively invade your garden because of the way it grows. It spreads by rhizomes, which are modified stems that form an underground network of continuous growth. Because creeping lily turf forms a carpet of greenery, it excels as a dense ground cover. But it lacks the restraint of blue lily turf, which makes it unsuitable as a border plant for flower beds or islands. To naturalize large areas or stabilize slopes, space creeping lily turf plants at least 2 feet apart because each plant’s mature spread may reach 24 inches.

Shady Monkey Grass

Mondo grass is sometimes called “little monkey grass” because compared to lily turf, it doesn’t grow quite as tall and its leafy blades are thinner, typically just 1/8 inch wide. In shady areas where it’s a challenge to grow turf grass, mondo grass is a suitable alternative. You can also use it to edge paths and border flower beds. Space monkey grass seeds 12 inches apart, and they will grow together to form a solid mat.

21 September, 2017

Interestingly enough, monkey grass isn’t really grass. Monkey grass, also known as mondo grass, is actually a flowering perennial with leaves that look like grass blades. Originating in China and Japan, monkey grass is gaining popularity in many parts of the Western world because it is low-maintenance, can withstand heat, drought and nearly any soil composition, and requires little fertilizer and mowing. Monkey grass is usually planted as an evergreen ground cover to prevent erosion, but it can also make a beautiful lawn, especially in yard areas that are shaded. The only drawback to planting a monkey grass lawn is that the plant can spread aggressively and invade surrounding gardens and lawns.

Till the topsoil using a rototiller or a stiff rake. Till compost or a starter fertilizer into the soil, turning the dirt at least 1 to 2 inches deep.

  • Interestingly enough, monkey grass isn’t really grass.
  • Monkey grass is usually planted as an evergreen ground cover to prevent erosion, but it can also make a beautiful lawn, especially in yard areas that are shaded.

Plant your monkey grass seeds in early spring or early fall. Don’t plant your monkey grass seed during times when your area receives heavy rain, because this will wash your seeds away. Most species of monkey grass thrive in shaded areas and slightly acidic and well-drained soils, including mondo grass.

Insert dividers into the soil around the perimeter of where you’re planning to grow the monkey grass. Use a straight-edged shovel, and make sure your dividers are at least eight to 12 inches deep to prevent the aggressive monkey grass from spreading outside of the lawn area.

Spread the seeds by applying half walking in one direction and then the other half walking in a perpendicular direction. You can sow the seeds by hand, or you can use a seed spreader or slit seeder.

  • Plant your monkey grass seeds in early spring or early fall.
  • Use a straight-edged shovel, and make sure your dividers are at least eight to 12 inches deep to prevent the aggressive monkey grass from spreading outside of the lawn area.

Rake the seeds gently into the soil, and then cover the seeded area lightly with a mixture of topsoil and compost. Spread more monkey grass seed on top.

Water well after first planting the monkey grass seeds. Water your monkey grass thereafter just enough to keep it slightly moist, perhaps twice a week during drier conditions. Monkey grass can withstand both drought and heavy rainfall, but it most likes to stay moist. Don’t water during the winter unless extremely dry conditions occur.

Mow or prune the monkey grass once in the early spring to remove the brown leaves before the new growth begins. This is the only time you need to mow the monkey grass.

  • Rake the seeds gently into the soil, and then cover the seeded area lightly with a mixture of topsoil and compost.
  • Water your monkey grass thereafter just enough to keep it slightly moist, perhaps twice a week during drier conditions.

You can use a roller over the seeded lawn, which will encourage seed germination from good seed-to-soil contact. Consider planting a species of monkey grass called dwarf mondo grass. This species stays short naturally. All other species of monkey grass grow between 10 to 15 inches in height, depending on the variety.

Don’t plant monkey grass in your lawn without using dividers to keep it contained and prevent it from spreading. Your neighbors may not like monkey grass spreading into their yard, and you’ll not like the monkey grass taking over your other plants.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Looking for a low growing, drought tolerant turf replacement? Try growing monkey grass. What is monkey grass? Rather confusingly, monkey grass is actually the common name for two different species. Yes, things could get a little muddled here, so keep reading to learn about the different types of monkey grass and how to use monkey grass in the landscape.

What is Monkey Grass?

Monkey grass is a groundcover that looks very similar to turf grass. It is the common name for liriope (Liriope muscari), but it is also referred to as border grass. In addition, monkey grass is oftentimes used as the common name for a similar plant, dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus).

Are Liriope and monkey grass the same? In so far as ‘monkey grass’ is often the terminology used for liriope, then yes, which is confusing since mondo grass is also called ‘monkey grass’ and yet liriope and mondo grass are not the same at all. In fact, they aren’t even grasses. Both are members of the Lily family.

Dwarf mondo grass has thinner leaves and a finer texture than liriope. As a group, both are referred to as lilyturf.

Types of Monkey Grass

There are quite a few types of monkey grass belonging to one of two genera: Liriope or Ophiopogon.

Of these varieties, the most commonly used is L. muscari, which is a clumping form. L. spicata, or creeping liriope, is best used in difficult areas such as on hillsides. It is an aggressive spreader and should only be used in areas that need full coverage, as it will choke out other plants.

Of the Ophiopogon genus, the monkey grass most commonly used is O. japonicus, or mondo grass, with fine, dark colored leaves that thrive in shaded areas. There is also the impressive black mondo grass which adds a touch of drama to the landscape. The most popular varieties are Nana, Nippon, and Gyoku-ryu.

How to Use Monkey Grass

Most liriope grows to 10-18 inches (25-46 cm.) in height, although the clumping type spreads to 12-18 inches (30-46 cm.) across. This evergreen groundcover blooms from July to August with white, pink, or purple hued blooms. These spiked blossoms provide a showy contrast against the green foliage and are followed by clusters of black fruit.

Monkey grass uses for L. muscari are as a groundcover under trees or shrubs, as low edging plants along paved areas, or as the front of a foundation planting. Due to its rapacious spreading habit, monkey grass uses for L. spicata are generally restricted to use as a ground cover in areas where maximum coverage is desired.

Dwarf mondo grass is most often used as a replacement for turf grass, but may also be grown in containers or used as a stand-alone plant.

Caring for Monkey Grass

Once established, both of these “monkey grass” varieties require very little maintenance, as they’re fairly drought tolerant, pest resistant and only needs mowing or pruning once annually. In the lawn, foliage should be mowed in the late winter prior to new growth. Set the mower at its highest cutting height and take care not to injure the crown.

Varieties of liriope can be divided every three or four years if additional plants are desired; however, this is not necessary.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

A lot of times when you move into a new home, you look around the yard and think about everything you need to do to make the yard yours. Transplanting things is sometimes the most economical way to do that. Let’s look at how to transplant monkey grass.

Tips for Transplanting Monkey Grass

If you look around and find that you have monkey grass growing here and there, you have a great starting point. All you need to do is dig some up, roots and all, and move it somewhere else.

For instance, if you find that monkey grass grows well around the front walkway of your new home, you could pull a few sprigs of it up, including the roots, and transplant monkey grass under the bushes in front of the house. You will find that Liriope grass transplanting is easy this way, as it will flourish and create a nice grass skirt under the bushes.

When transplanting monkey grass, make sure you let it take strong root. Then you might want to spend some extra time raking it for the first few weeks so that any carpet grass runners that grow over top of it can be removed. They try to share the space with the monkey grass, but monkey grass grows so thick that the carpet grass can’t get its roots if the monkey grass is established.

You might decide to make a new island garden. If so, you can transplant monkey grass into the island to create a frame for the bed or even to make it a nice ground cover throughout the bed.

When to Plant Monkey Grass

Knowing when to plant monkey grass or transplant it will help ensure it survives better after being transplanted. Wait until there is no chance of frost and it should be safe to transplant through midsummer. After transplanting monkey grass, it will need time to establish itself to survive the cold weather and after midsummer, it may no be able to do this.

Anytime you make a new flower bed, go ahead and pluck a few pieces of monkey grass to put in it. Liriope grass transplanting works well so long as you include roots with the grass you picked, so it will grow pretty much wherever you plant it.

The only thing to watch out for when transplanting monkey grass is that it can be quite invasive if put in the wrong place. Just keep it contained to the areas you want it in, and be sure to pluck it from areas you don’t. This is how hardy monkey grass is, and you don’t want it to take over your whole garden.

An evergreen perennial, liriope — also known as lilyturf and monkey grass — makes a great ground cover and border plant in the landscape.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari is a species of low, herbaceous flowering plants from East Asia.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Ancha Chiangmai

Related To:

Liriope (Liriope spp.) is a tough, evergreen, grass-like perennial. Also called lilyturf and monkey grass, it has beautified landscapes with deep green or variegated foliage and lavender flowers for generations. Liriope is sometimes confused with its smaller relative, mondo grass, and is often outshined by showier ornamental grasses. However, when you need a combination of beauty, versatility and rugged functionality, look no further than low-maintenance liriope.

How to Use Liriope

L.muscari grows in rather tight clumps. Use ‘Big Blue’ or ‘Variegata’ as edging plants to neatly outline walkways, or as border grass to define the margins of landscape islands. The clumps stay put without sending runners into adjacent plantings. The name lilyturf comes from its ability to serve as a flowering lawn substitute under certain conditions, however it is not suitable for foot traffic.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’

Liriope muscari, commonly called lilyturf or blue lily turf, is a tufted, tuberous-rooted, grass-like perennial which typically grows 12-18″ tall.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Big High Mountian

Shutterstock/Big High Mountian

L. spicata spreads to form open colonies. It helps with erosion control on mild slopes and thrives in the shade beneath shallow-rooted trees. Plant ‘Silver Dragon’ as a silvery highlight mixed with other spreading ground covers like mondo grass.

How to Grow Liriope

Grow all types of liriope in full sun to partial shade, and in moist, well-drained soil. Established plants can grow in high heat, excessive humidity and drought-prone areas.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

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Tired of mowing that lawn? Why not replace expensive, high-maintenance sod with an easy-care, environmentally-friendly groundcover?

In deep shade, the leaves grow long and thin, and plant growth slows significantly. The evergreen foliage declines in severe cold. Cut liriope plants back to the ground in later winter to make way for fresh new foliage in spring.

Propagating Liriope

Propagate by division and transplanting. Divide L. muscari by lifting plants in spring and using a spade or garden knife to cut sections with at least 3 to 5 shoots each. Transplant L. spicata plants individually from areas of high density to new or low-density areas.

How to Care for Liriope

Liriope are low-maintenance plants with few problems. Slugs and snails may chew on the foliage but rarely do these mollusks cause significant damage. Pick them off as you see them, and employ slug traps if damage becomes excessive.

Too much rain or overhead irrigation may lead to anthracnose infection — a fungal disease that causes brown leaf tips followed by yellowing and dieback of foliage. Other diseases caused by excessive moisture include leaf rot, root rot and crown rot. Plant only in well-drained locations and avoid overhead irrigation to virtually eliminate these problems.

Types of Liriope

Liriope comes in clumping or spreading forms, and deep green or variegated foliage. In late summer tiered whorls of flowers are followed by black berries in the fall. Though they differ in appearance, they have similar growing needs and are treated similarly.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope ‘Big Blue’

Clumping ‘Big Blue’ liriope is a perennial with grassy “straps” that grow up and spill over, like a fountain. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10, it opens lilac-purple blooms in summer.

Photo by: Walter’s Gardens, Inc.

Walter’s Gardens, Inc.

Clumping ‘Big Blue’ liriope is a perennial with grassy “straps” that grow up and spill over, like a fountain. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10, it opens lilac-purple blooms in summer.

Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’

  • Zone: 5-10
  • Height: 12″ to 18″
  • Spread: 12″ to 24″
  • Bloom Time: late summer
  • Bloom Description: lavender flower spikes
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Water: medium

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’ (Variegated Lily Turf) is an evergreen tuberous perennial forming a loose clump of narrow, arching, green leaves striped with creamy white.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Elana Rodina

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

  • Zone: 5-10
  • Height: 12″ to 24″
  • Spread: 12 ” to 24″
  • Bloom Time: late summer
  • Bloom Description: purple flower spikes
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Water: medium

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope spicata ‘Silver Dragon’

Liriope spicata ‘Silver Dragon’ is an evergreen grass-like perennial that spreads by underground runners to form wide colonies of narrow upright green white-striped foliage to 1 foot tall and easily spreading 3 feet wide or more.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Phoebe P

Liriope spicata ‘Gin-ryu’ (Silver Dragon)

21 September, 2017

Monkey grass in only one of the names Lirope muscari goes by. Lilyturf and border grass are other common names this hardy, perennial evergreen is called. Plants produce 12- to 18-inch spikes of grasslike foliage with violet flowers produced summer throughout early fall. Small, black, berrylike seeds follow blossoming, which gardeners can use to propagate new plants. Monkey grass makes an attractive addition to any garden and is relatively maintenance-free. It is suitable for use in borders and mass-plantings, and its high drought tolerance makes it a good plant in xeriscaping.

Allow the monkey grass seeds to fully ripen and dry while remaining on the plant. Picking the seeds too soon reduces their viability. The seeds will harden and turn from green to blackish in color when ripe.

  • Monkey grass in only one of the names Lirope muscari goes by.
  • Small, black, berrylike seeds follow blossoming, which gardeners can use to propagate new plants.

Cut the stem holding the monkey grass seeds from the plant. Snip or pull the ripe seeds from the stem. Monkey grass seeds do not store well, so it is best to plant them as soon as possible for best results.

Select a site in your landscape to plant the monkey grass seeds situated in full to partial sun and that drains well, if planting the seeds directly into the ground.

Clear the planting site of any weeds or unwanted vegetation that will compete with the germination and growth of the monkey grass seeds.

Plant the seeds approximately 1-inch deep and cover with soil. Water the area regularly, keeping the planting area moist until the seeds germinate. Continue watering the seedlings two to three times per week, depending on your local weather conditions. Seeds will sprout in approximately one month.

  • Cut the stem holding the monkey grass seeds from the plant.
  • Water the area regularly, keeping the planting area moist until the seeds germinate.

Stratify seeds before planting, if starting the monkey grass seeds indoors. Soak the seeds for approximately 24 hours in warm water before planting in soil.

Fill a container with drain holes with a well-draining potting mix and make a 1-inch indentation into the center of the soil.

Place the monkey grass seed into the hole and cover with soil. Water the container regularly, keeping the soil moist until the seed sprouts. Continue watering two to three times per week until the plant is established and ready for transplanting. Seeds will sprout in approximately one month.

  • Stratify seeds before planting, if starting the monkey grass seeds indoors.
  • Water the container regularly, keeping the soil moist until the seed sprouts.

Situate container-grown plants in an area where there is high light or sunlight. Monkey grass seeds require light to sprout.

Gardeners can split and divide monkey grass plants to create more plants for their landscaping needs. Dig up a plant and pull the roots apart. Plant in the garden as usual and keep the transplants moist while they establish themselves.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Does monkey grass need to be pruned? If so, when and how should I trim it back? -Ben

Monkey grass (Liriope sp.) is a wonderful border grass and groundcover that’s perfect for hard to mow spaces and provides an excellent border to separate planting beds from lawns. Trimming monkey grass isn’t mandatory; but as the leaves age, they start to brown on the tips and eventually can look pretty ragged.

Each spring, monkey grass grows a fresh set of leaves, so it can easily recover from an annual pruning. By trimming back your monkey grass, you get rid of the old growth and have a fresh, green border.

Here are some tips on how to cut back the monkey grass in your yard:

    How to Plant Monkey Grass

Further Information

  • When to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses (article)

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Have more questions about landscaping projects around your home?

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We are in the middle of a very dry season, so I have been watering my monkey grass. Some of the ends of the leaves are turning tan/brown. Am I watering too much or not enough?
Thanks -RW

I have lots of Monkey grass,but this we have had an extremely hot summer and all of the leaves on my monkey grass are turning brown. I was wondering if it would be safe to cut back the first week of September. Also I would like to if it be safe to separate and place in different planters in Septemer.

In the picture for this article, what kind of watering setup does it use for the monkey grass streches?
I’m thinking I might want to use monkey grass for a perimeter inside a sidewalk-bound planter.
Note: I’m terrible at keeping plants alive.

I’m trying to start with a small planter – about 8′ x 16′ – that is bound on all sides by hardscape or house.

In that area I have a drip system for watering.
Two palms, and I’m looking to add hostas, ferns, maybe some color of some type, and possbly monkey grass around the outher edge.

What kind of watering might that perimeter monkey grass need?

My monkey grass has turned brown , yellow and died out in spots,what is wrong with it?It looks terrible. I have a lot of it lining my property and big gaps just ruin my lawn.the first 3 or 4 years I had it ,it was beautiful now it’s awful. Drainage is good……Help!

My monkey grass looks terrible need help on getting it back on track it’s dry brown and yellow

My dogs & PUPPY TOO, are eating the grass blades, & berries. Are the berries poisenes? I keep my pets away from the monkey grass, but .concerned about what they MAY have eaten! Thanks.

Money Grass is horrible and I absolutely HATE it. If you don’t cut it back or manage its growth, it will literally grow wild. In my opinion it’s nothing but a nuisance weed.

I’ve bought 2 houses now that were both owned by older ladies who laid down Monkey Grass as a border to their garden or other plants. But as they got older and couldn’t maintain it, the Monkey Grass grew out of control and was choking out the other grass and plants.

To make matters worse, you literally have to completely dig it out roots and all or it comes back year after year. When I dig up Monkey Grass I usually have to dig it up for 2-3 years before its fully eradicated. All it needs is a single root to grow anywhere in your yard.

My advice to save yourself a whole lot trouble and hassle and go with anything but Monkey Grass.

I am having the same problems with monkey grass in my our backyard as Tom in the letter above. I bought an older home with monkey grass around a tree. What once was probably a circle around the tree has spread out in places, and the circle has become quite irregular. The monkey grass has also put out shoots into the surrounding lawn, scattering multiple single shoots over the lawn. It takes considerable time and effort to dig up each shoot. It would take several years to get rid of them all. We tried tilling an area of spreading monkey grass on the back of the lot. Now it has grown back healthier and more vigorous than before.

monkey grass is taking over my yard ? What can I do ?? please help

I use weed and grass killer around the outside edge and the inside edge to keep monkey grass in control. I usually mow it down every year or every other year.

i’m disappointed to not see one answer to anyone’s questions here.

I agree with Jane. Very frustrating and dissapointing to not see anyone’s questions answered.

Hi Reeves,
The comment section under each of our posts is for visitors to leave a comment and/or communicate with each other. While we read every comment posted on our site, with over 5,000 articles and videos, it is not possible for us to answer individual questions. We do, however, answer questions on our weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. If you would like to submit a question for consideration on the show, go to and fill out the form to send it to us. Thank you for your interest.

I have an answer for controlling Monkey Grass. I live in a forest area. My home of about five years has quite a bit of monkey grass in areas where trees prevent most other types of ground cover from growing.
I have some gaps in the Monkey grass areas where leaves were left for too long. So, it appears that the monkey grass can be controlled by covering the monkey grass with something that would prevent light from getting there like a tarp that staked in place.

Is there a way to stop the blue flower from turning into the berries on the Liriope muscari , and are the berries actually the seed ? Very messy when they fall off. Last year I sniped all flowers off before it turned to berries and disposed . A lot of work . Thanks !

My monkey grass is turning brown on the tips. I live in southwest Oklahoma. Am I watering too much or not enough? I usually water every evening or every other evening. Thanks

I would like to answer the questions on mundo / monkey grass. We started a major project 6 yrs ago and learned by reading as making mistakes!

What is the best pesticide for monkey grass ? My monkey grass is chewed up this summer. Also, how can I trim it and the tips stay green? Thank you for your help.

Lots of comments about monkey grass as borders – I have that as well but also my mom started planting monkey grass on slopes where dirt was washing down. Monkey grass seems very effective preventing this and holding the dirt in place. I think it’s beautiful and love how it lushes thick as the years go on. Embrace the growth and learn to use it effectively – lovely borders and prevents dirt sliding. The off shoots don’t bother me at all as they just blend in with the regular grass.

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey Grass makes a great border plant.

Savvy gardeners know that monkey grass is a versatile plant that can serve many purposes. From groundcover to accenting a border, monkey grass is hardy and can withstand harsh conditions such as drought, standing water and heavy foot traffic.

Beware though, while monkey grass can be a benefit to your garden, it can be difficult to get rid of, so plant it in specific locations with care.

Mondo grass, commonly known as monkey grass, is best grown in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11. Monkey grass normally stands between 6 to 12 inches tall, with blades of the monkey grass reaching no more than ½ inch wide. Unlike the name implies, monkey grass isn’t a grass at all; it is actually a perennial with grass-shaped leaves.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Water droplets on a monkey grass blade.

How to Plant

  1. Select a planting location with filtered sunlight to full shade. Although monkey grass can tolerate direct sunlight, it tends to make the leaves a pale green color; monkey grass planted in darker locations tends to have a darker color. Plant the monkey grass in the early spring or autumn to allow the root system to take hold before hotter weather hits.
  2. Till the area about 8 to 10 inches deep, removing non-organic matter such as stones.
  3. Add about 2 to 3 inches of organic matter, and a balanced fertilizer to the area and mix it into the loosened soil. Follow fertilizer package directions for the amount of fertilizer you should apply.
  4. Dig a whole about as deep and no more than 1.5 times the width of the root ball of the monkey grass plant.
  5. Set the plant in the hole so the plant is level with the soil line. Back fill the hole and tamp the soil down.
  6. Water the plant thoroughly until the plant is moist but not soggy. Monitor water levels closely over the first two weeks, until you notice new growth and until the root system has taken hold in the soil.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

General Care Tips

Inspect the area around your monkey grass for weeds, hand-pulling any that you find. Like most plants, monkey grass thrives when it isn’t in competition with other plants for room to grow.

Completely remove leaves with reddish spots, as it is a symptom of anthracnose. Apply a fungicide with azoxystrobin to limit the chances of a full outbreak.

Uses in the Garden

Liriope muscari is a type of monkey grass commonly used for borders and walkways in the garden. It is beloved for its purple-spiked or white-flowering blooms.

Ophiopogon japonicas, commonly known as dwarf mondo grass, look great between stepping-stones or pavers. Dwarf monad grass is also available in the traditional green colored grass or a darker, black-life variety.

Use Liriope spicata in sloping areas or in places where you won’t mind aggressive growth. This variety tends to fill in quickly, and will grow in places left without any other plants.

How to Propagate

Monkey grass can easily be divided. Propagating monkey grass allows you to keep the plant from being overcrowded and will save you money if you intend to use it around your garden.

  1. Dig an entire clump from the soil.
  2. Divide the plant with a sterilized spade or large knife. Ensure that each segment has at least 8 to 10 blades and healthy roots. Avoid using the middle sections of the plant as it is likely older and unsightly.
  3. Plant the new segment in prepared soil so that the plant is at the same level as the soil line.
  4. Water-in the new plant thoroughly for the first two weeks.

Pruning Tips

Prune monkey grass in the spring before new growth begins. Not only will it make the plant look tidier, it will accommodate new growth.

Use sterilized clippers for small clumps or a lawn mower (on its highest setting) for large areas of monkey grass. Cut blades down to about 3 inches high. Using a lawnmower is not only quicker, but it will keep your monkey grass at a consistent height and make the area look cleaner.

Remove cut foliage to limit disease and improve air circulation.

Depending on your point of view, you will either consider monkey grass a lovely ground cover or an unwanted weed. If the latter is more of your mindset, these tips for controlling monkey grass will help you get rid of your unwelcome garden visitor.How to Plant Monkey Grass

Check Craig’s list free advertisements on most weekends in the summer here in NC and you will see ads for free monkey grass plants touting the words “all you have to do it dig it up yourself.”

There is a reason for these ads. It is the way clever gardeners keep their liriope plants under control without having to do it themselves!

What is Monkey Grass?

Liriope, commonly known as “monkey grass” or “creeping lilyturf” is a grass like plant from Asia which is often used as a ground cover or border plant.

Oddly enough, in spite of the common names, it is neither a grass or a lily. It is a member of the family Asparagaceae. Given the right conditions, monkey grass will grow aggressively and can take over a border in no time at all.How to Plant Monkey Grass

I have monkey grass in several areas of my garden, but I have to keep an eye on it, or it will spread everywhere. The perennial plant spreads by means of runners which are easy to transplant to other areas of the garden.

Did you start out with a nice border of liriope and found that it has started to invade your lawn or garden beds? Do you often find yourself asking “how can I get rid of this darned stuff?

Never fear, you are not alone. Many gardeners feel the same way.

Unfortunately, if left untended, monkey grass can be quite difficult to remove since if forms dense clumps that seem to go on forever. The following tips will help you get rid of or control monkey grass in your yard.

Controlling Monkey Grass

There is no “one way fits all” method of getting rid of monkey grass. A lot depends on how early you get to the job and how entrenched it is in your yard or lawn.

Start Early and Stay on Top of the Job.

If you are only trying to keep the liriope under control but want to allow some to stay in the yard, you’ll need to be vigilant. The plant sends out runners all during the growing season. When you see them starting to grow out into the lawn or garden bed, remove the runners.How to Plant Monkey Grass

It is much easier to keep it tidy than to have to dig up a whole garden bed that’s been taken over.How to Plant Monkey Grass


If you let monkey grass grow un-managed, you will have a job getting rid of it!

I know you were looking for an easy answer but the best remedy involves some real work – digging. If you have tried just pulling up the runners, you will know that they break off easily.

Digging the monkey grass will get the roots and will keep the spreading nature under control.How to Plant Monkey Grass

Use a spade or shovel to dig down around the liriope. Till the area around the removed plants and over the ground with plastic or newspaper to help choke out further growth.

This takes patience, since you may need to repeat this process for several months if you want to get it all.


Since the plant spreads by means of underground runners, adding barriers is a good practice for controlling monkey grass. The barriers must go down into the soil quite a way – 12-18″ is a good size.

If you use barriers that are too shallow, the plant will simple go under them and come back up on the other side.How to Plant Monkey Grass

The barriers do not need to be plastic. Other ideas are trenches, landscaping fabric, plastic sheeting, or channels dug near the plant

Containing it

Controlling monkey grass when you want to use it as a border is easy if you think ahead when you plant it. Did you know that you can control it in your garden and still have the lovely border that you want by simply planting it in containers in the first place? \

Instead of planting the liriope directly into the soil, sink the plant pots side by side and mulch over them.

The look will be the same, but the plant won’t be able to send out underground runners and you won’t have it invading nearby garden spaces. You’ll have a lovely border without the hassle of having to keep removing spreading monkey grass babies!

Note on this method. The plants will eventually become pot bound and will need to be removed and divided. You an either use the extra plants in other areas of the garden, give them away or add them to the compost pile. How to Plant Monkey Grass

Know your types of Liriope!

Some types of liriope are fairly easy to keep under control. I have Liriope muscari and a variegated liriope called Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’.

Both of these are a gentle clumping type of monkey grass. They can be controlled easily by digging and manually removing the unwanted plants and roots.

If you love the plant and want to grow it, the variegated variety is much slower growing and far less invasive. I have had some for 4 or 5 years and it comes back every year but barely spreads.
How to Plant Monkey Grass

Other types of liriope, particularly liriope spicata, are much more aggressive, making digging and tilling very difficult. If you have this variety planted you will be in for a shock when you start to dig it out.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

When you consider the effort that goes into controlling monkey grass, you can see why it’s either loved or hated by gardeners. Which category do you fall into?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Liriope is a tough grass that is often used as a border
plant or lawn
alternative. There are two main species used, both of which are easy to
care for and have few pest or disease problems. Making a Liriope landscape
border produces a tidy, low growing edge that doesn’t need mowing and remains
green year after year.

Why Use Liriope as a Border?

If you want an easy to grow, low maintenance border that
stays short and has no major issues, look to Liriope grass. This tough,
adaptable evergreen plant makes a lovely edging in formal gardens, outlines paths
and pavers well, or can be used as a hillside erosion stabilizer. Using Liriope as
a border offers an easy solution for many landscape problems.

Liriope is also known as lilyturf, border grass, and monkey grass.
Of the two main varieties, one is clumping and the other creeping, although
both spread through rhizomes. In USDA zones 5 to 10, a border of monkey grass
is a no-fuss solution. A landscape border with this grass produces a low,
neatly foliaged groundcover that sets off taller plants.

When you plant Liriope
, you will end up with a creeping groundcover that, in some
situations, can become invasive. Liriope
is a clumping form that will eventually set out offsets and
increase the plant’s presence. It makes an excellent and easily controlled
grass edging. Both forms tolerate sun to part shade, almost any soil provided
it is well draining, and even periods of drought.

Planting Liriope Grass Edging

As an alternative to rock, gravel, or even grass around beds
and paths, use Liriope to set off and define different areas. Liriope spicata is best used as a ground
cover but L. muscari makes a perfect edging. Plant each Lilyturf one
foot (30 cm.) apart. Keep the plants moderately moist but never soggy.

Mulch around the plants to prevent competitive weeds and
help cool soil and conserve moisture. In time, monkey grass will spread by rhizomes and
produce smaller versions of itself. This helps a border to fill in, but if you
want the area more controlled and sparse, simply dig out and detach the new
plants. You can always plant them in a container or elsewhere.

Border Grass Care

A border of monkey grass is very self-sufficient
once established. In fact, this border grass care is almost nonexistent, making
it a perfect “set and forget” plant.

The plants often get rust and other fungal diseases of foliage, so
use a soaker hose or other method to water under the
leaves or water only in the morning when the sun can quickly dry them off. Water
established grass regularly in hot weather.

Feed the plants in early spring with a slow release formula.

There is no need to mow this
grassy plant, but you can if you want to rejuvenate the plant, mow or shear in late winter or early spring.

“Liriope Grass Edging: How To Plant A Border Of Monkey Grass” was first posted here

With so many options to choose from, this ground cover offers countless ways to lower maintenance.

Monkey grass is the South’s favorite ground cover. It’s easy to find, simple to care for, usually evergreen, and tolerates heat. Throw in the fact that many types boast showy flowers, and you have a keeper.

It’s tough too. Tolerant of shallow soil, drought, dogs, and deer, these Asian natives can survive the occasional crushing by car tires, bicycles, and the disoriented FedEx guy. Because it grows thick and matlike, weeds rarely become a problem. Little or no fertilizer is required. For all of these reasons, this plant is one of the best secrets to low-maintenance gardening.

Select the right monkey grass, and your reward is even greater. Some prefer full sun, while others are better suited to shade. Some clump, and others creep. All monkey grasses fall into one of two groups: the genuses Liriope or Ophiopogon.

In general, all liriopes do well in filtered sun to full shade and aren’t picky about soil. The most common is the clumping form (Liriope muscari), which is often used for edging. Popular selections include ‘John Burch’ and ‘Silvery Sunproof,’ which excel in sun. ‘Big Blue’ is the perfect choice for dry shade. These liriopes boast lavender to purple flowers followed by dark purple fruit. White-flowering selections such as shade-loving ‘Monroe White’ are available too. Heights range mostly from 10 to 15 inches tall. If you live in the Coastal or Tropical South, try ‘Evergreen Giant,’ which stretches to 2 feet tall and makes a great substitute for a low shrub.

Now is the perfect time to trim your liriope. Mow or cut back foliage to the ground before new shoots emerge. If you do it after the shoots are up, the tips will be snipped blunt, and your liriope will be stuck with a ragged look for a year.

Equally durable and just as carefree, mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) likes filtered sun to shade and well-drained soil. Foliage is fine and dark, making it an elegant choice for a formal or small garden. Heights can range from 2 to 12 inches, depending on selection. Ground-hugging, slow-growing ‘Gyoku Ryu’ is a nice choice for between stepping-stones. Black mondo grass (O. planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) grows well in containers and looks dramatic when paired with anything chartreuse.

Another Way To Simplify
If you have a slope or large bed to cover, use creeping liriope (Liriope spicata). It covers faster than L. muscari and spreads by underground stems.

To plant, remove sod from the slope, and till or turn the soil with a shovel. Rake it smooth, and mulch with pine straw. Plant finger-size sprigs about 8 inches apart through the straw. Or, if clumps are larger, space 1 foot apart, and water. Mondo grass works too.

“Smart Choices With Monkey Grass” is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.

​​What Is Monkey Grass?

Is Monkey grass attacking your precious lawn and garden while it hinders other plants from thriving? Interestingly, Monkey grass is not really grass, though its name suggests just this. Monkey grass belongs to the lily family. It is a low maintenance plant and pretty much grows in sun and shade throughout the year in any climate.

However, they may quickly become invasive so it is important to control and get rid of them. So might now be wondering how to kill monkey grass and many people share your concern.

Don’t worry! You are not alone and you have multiple options for controlling and eventually getting rid of Monkey grass.However, in order to address the situation with the most appropriate method of treatment, you have to know the different variants of monkey grass first.

Variants Of Monkey Grass

Monkey grass is popularly grown to be used as borders for gardens or as ground covers. But while some people like growing it for a specific purpose, many view Monkey grass like a weed. Therefore, they would choose to remove this plants from their gardens. Like weeds, killing or removing Monkey grass can be difficult but definitely not impossible.

Remember though, that despite Monkey grass’ similarities with weeds, you may need to employ different measures to control the latter. You can check this article on weeds for more information.​

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Let’s now discuss the two varieties of Monkey grass.

There are two types of Monkey grass. One variant grows long leaf blades and spreads very aggressively. On the other hand, the second variety are more clumpy and has very limited spreading.

Liriope Spicata (Creeping Lilyturf) – This variant spreads fast and pretty much engulfs everything in its path. It has a massive root system that spreads aggressively by runners. This variety is very difficult to control.​

Liriope Muscari (Big Blue Lilyturf) – This variant stays where you plant them. Over time they become clumpy and are relatively easier to remove by digging. This looks beautiful and looks great during flowering time.

Having said that, here are some ideas to bring Monkey grass under control or eliminate them completely, if that’s your aim.

Applying Chemicals To Kill Monkey Grass

If you want to kill monkey grass, herbicides with glyphosate can be quite effective. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide and its application can kill normal grass and other plants too. You may need to use products like Roundup which contains glyphosate.

Rather than spraying on fully grown monkey grass, it is better to cut it first and then spray glyphosate. It may require two to three applications of glyphosate before you get rid of your monkey grass.

Applying Glyphosate is best done when the plants are actively growing. When using Roundup, apply it with a spray in a targeted manner to reduce the possibility of killing other plants.It is advisable to do the spraying or brushing on a sunny day.
Spray when there is not much wind to prevent the chemical from affecting other desirable plants.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

However, you need to take adequate precautions while spraying glyphosate, such as wearing a mask, since this spray can cause eye irritation. Hence, avoid contact with eyes and clothing when you’re using this chemical. As an extra precaution, you can also wear goggles when spraying.

After spraying, wash your hands thoroughly before having any food or drink.

Moreover, you should avoid using glyphosate when there are edible fruits or vegetables next to the monkey grass. Also, ensure that the pesticide does not get drained into the storm drains and other water bodies.

Please do not plan to apply the treatment when rain is forecasted in the next 24 hours.

The Natural Way – Tilling And Removing Monkey Grass Roots By Hand

Mowing doesn’t appear to affect the growth of monkey grass. It will make a comeback in a few weeks’ time.

The natural way of removing monkey grass is to till the infected area and rake it out. However, it is going to be a lot of hard work. Removing the massive roots that spread and cover a large area is quite a laborious task.

If you are against chemical treatment, you can choose this option. If there are plants that have edible fruits and vegetables next to the monkey grass you want to remove, your only option is to go the natural way.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Liriope muscari, the gentler clumpy variant of monkey grass, can be removed more effectively by digging and manually removing the plant along with the roots.

However removing liriope spicata (the aggressive variant) naturally by tilling and raking might be very difficult. The amount of effort that you will need will depend their number. You might be in for a shock after your first attempt itself.

After tilling and raking, keep the tilled area covered with plastic or newspaper. This will help choke further growth. Beware! You will need a lot of patience to do tilling and removing roots multiple times for over a few months.

It might take months and sometimes even years of patience and hard work to get rid of them completely.​

Calling the Experts

When you have tried everything possible and have reached a point where you feel all your efforts appear to be in vain, then it may be time to call in the experts. When everything else fails, professional landscapers or gardeners can do the dirty work for you.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

With the right tools and chemicals and their expertise and local knowledge, they will be able to address your situation. They have a good understanding of what might work and what might not work for your locality.

They will even be able to provide you additional tips also on ways to contain it in future, should there be a recurrence of monkey grass attack.


As you can see, monkey grass can be killed or controlled through natural means or by applying chemicals. It needs sustained, patient, and systematic efforts.
While the clumpy variant can be naturally removed, the aggressively spreading variant is better removed by chemical treatment containing glyphosate.

Knowing how to kill monkey grass is important to keep your garden healthy and beautiful. It is a matter of choosing the right method that works for you after considering conditions and type of monkey grass that you are trying to kill.
With patience and a systematic approach, your efforts in controlling monkey grass will eventually pay off.

If you have any questions or comments, please post below in the comments section.

  • Post Author:Kelly Bates
  • Post Category:Deer Control Tips

In general, most of the deer feels attraction towards the different plants; depending on the habits and food items, it varies from one place to another place. To avoid this, most of the garden owner protect their lawn by using an electric fence or a deer repellent plant according to the region. Among all the deer repellent plants, variegated monkey grass works well in repelling the deer out of the garden.

The variegated monkey grass is one of the most popular deer repellent plants mostly found in the southern regions; it requires only less maintenance. It tolerates shallow type soil and drought and also repels deer as they grow to be thicker.

Varieties of variegated monkey grass

There are different types of variegated monkey grass belonging to two families; Liriope or Ophiopogon. They grow up to 15 inches high. Their varieties include,

Liriope Muscari: It is the most commonly used plant for bordering the fence, edge bedding, and walk paths and it usually blooms with the purple colored berries with spikes.

Spicata: It is effective for the troubling regions such as slopes. This type of monkey grass further reduces the foliage in the gardening. It is effective in repelling the deer out of the garden to safeguard the plants and animals.

Ophiopogon Japonicus: It is also named as Mondo Grass and is smaller in outlook. It is dark in color with 12 inches of height; it suits the shade regions which are intolerant to the sun.

Dwarf Mondo: It is usually grown along the walker’s pathway. It looks dramatic and black in color.

Why variegated monkey grass?

The variegated monkey grass is tough on nailing for fencing. It has the ability to tolerate the drought and wet condition during the summer seasons. I have tried lots of plants to resist the deer but among those, only the variegated monkey grass worked well in repelling the deer out of my garden. I strongly suggest this plant because of its notable features which include easy care, tolerant capacity, soil adaptability and treating the disease of the plants.

Steps to take care of the variegated monkey grass

The variegated monkey grass plant is easy to identify and care. It can tolerate the heat over the plants. Choosing the right monkey grass for fencing will serve the purpose of repelling deer effectively. Follow the steps below to take care of it.

  • Regular monitoring should be implemented in the months of February and March for the new growth.
  • Great care should be given regarding the drainage requirements when compared to the other plants.
  • Constantly, clean the damaged leaves formed on the monkey grass plant.
  • It requires low maintenance on gardening these kinds of plants over the fencing, to repel the deer away.

sooo. lots of this crazy stuff growing here and there when i moved here. any suggestions on what to do with that? is it poisonous to horses? border ideas? fence row line as a ground cover? (as it does not grow tall).

or should i just not even worry with it?

any help on the topic of integrating monkey grass into my little neck of the woods or eliminating it (things have to have a use and work around here) would be very useful

Sorry for the delay in responding, but I don’t have monkey grass growing on my farm. But I knew of someone who had a lot of it, so I went and asked her.

She said that ridding an area of monkey grass without using a herbicide can be a long, slow process without resorting to bulldozing the area. The plant spreads underground, making removing it by hand difficult. Just as with bermuda grass, the plant needs to be dug up and the underground pieces picked out and removed. Little pieces left behind will resprout. As they resprout, immediately pull them out while it is still easy to do so.

I don’t know if monkey grass can be smothered. From experience I can confirm that it doesn’t work well for bermuda grass.

I asked if livestock will eat monkey grass, but she didn’t know. So I don’t know if it is toxic to livestock. It isn’t a grass in actuality.

Chances are if you live in Atlanta, you’ve seen this ornamental grass and likely have some in your yard. This popular plant is as an ideal candidate for groundcover and border planting in the south. Its hardiness and versatility make it an easy choice for Atlanta homeowners. Monkey grass requires very little maintenance but yields great rewards in its ability to give your yard an aesthetic facelift.

Monkey Grass Facts: This Asian-native is an interesting plant with a few types to choose from.

  • Other names it is known as include: liriope, spider grass, lily turf, border grass, and mondo grass.
  • It’s not actually grass, it’s a perennial with leaves that resembles grass.
  • Some varieties produce white or purple blooms in the summer.
  • Leaves tend to be darker green in the shade and lighter green when exposed to more sunlight.

Types of Monkey Grass: With several selections, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for your needs.

  • Spreading: If you’re looking for a great solution for those tough to mow areas or groundcover for a slope or large area in your yard, make sure you choose a monkey grass that spreads.
  • Clumping: If you’re seeking a lovely border plant with lush green leaves to distinguish gardens and walkways, you will want a monkey grass that clumps.

Benefits of Monkey Grass: There are many attractive characteristics that make this plant popular to homeowners around the country, especially here in the Atlanta area. Monkey grass is:

  • Tolerant to drought and heat
  • Requires little to no fertilizer
  • Grows in many types of soil
  • Can flourish in a variety of conditions
  • Rarely suffers from foot traffic, disease, insect or animal damage

Monkey Grass Maintenance: With all the hardy qualities of this thick, low-maintenance groundcover, what can you do to care for your monkey grass?

  • Water: Monkey grass only needs watering two weeks after initial planting. Afterwards, you can water your liriope during periods of consistent or extreme drought.
  • Mulch: Apply 2-4 inches of mulch after trimming to help ward off weeds.
  • Weed: Hand pull weeds around your monkey grass or spot treat weeds with a post emergent- be sure to steer clear of spraying the monkey grass.
  • Trim: Although cutting back your monkey grass isn’t a necessity, it is recommended. As the leaves on the plant begin to age, they develop brown spots on the tips that won’t do much for the beauty of your yard. The good news is that monkey grass produces a new set of leaves each spring so you can easily replace that old growth with a lush, green border for spring.
    • Timing:It’s best to trim in the late winter or early spring before new shoots appear. Waiting to cut liriope down after new shoots emerge will create dull tips for the remainder of the year.
    • Methods:You can cut back your monkey grass by simply giving it a quick mow or using your weed eater. Just be sure to adjust the mower to the highest setting. If you don’t have much to trim and want to take a more delicate approach, hand trimming will also work. Use clippers to cut the leaves down to about 3 inches.

Monkey grass will survive with little to no care, but there are some steps you can take to keep it looking top notch. Know what types of monkey grass you need for your landscape, don’t forget to add mulch and weed around it, and also give it a quick trim to make room for new blades come spring.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey grass is a gardener’s favorite choice. Also called “Ryu” or the “Dragon’s Beard,” it’s commonly used to create exotic borders around flowerbeds in lawns or along walkways. This grass doesn’t harm other plants like weeds do, and it needs minimal maintenance. Its long leaves and white flowers look beautiful, but if it isn’t regularly pruned, it can become highly invasive.

Like most other grass types, monkey grass tends to spread quickly through underground runners. A garden overburdened with monkey grass can soon be ruined as it covers other plants, cutting-off their oxygen and sunlight supply. Removing monkey grass is difficult, so you need to use a combination of the following methods.

Step 1 – Manually Removing It

The simplest and most effective method to remove monkey grass it to manually remove it. Dig around the monkey-grass bed, as just pulling out the plant doesn’t help. Dig up the grass with a shovel or garden hoe. After digging-up the area, water it profusely to choke and leftover grass roots.

Step 2 – Thinning Leaves and Using Tarps

After manually removing what you can, you can restrict monkey-grass growth by regularly thinning the leaves by ripping apart the clubbed leaves. Cover pruned grass with a tarp. Regularly thinning the leaves removes overlying, protective foliage, and the tarp captures sufficient heat inside to damage the grass.

Step 3 – Creating Root Barriers

If the above methods don’t work, you should try more intensive methods, like creating a root barrier. While the soil bed is still wet, install 12-18 inch long root barriers into the soil.

The barrier could be landscaping fabric, plastic sheeting, or some mulch. The barriers ensure that the monkey-grass roots and rhizomes cannot spread any further. Deep-seated rhizomes are gradually destroyed, as the barrier cuts-off their nutrition supply. The best time to try this method is in summer, when the high temperatures help dry the plant out.

Step 4 ­– Using Commercial Applications

Many herbicides are retailed specifically for monkey-grass removal. However, spraying the grass once won’t solve the problem. You will need to do it continuously. For best results, apply an herbicide after cutting through the grass spread with a shear to help it penetrate deeper through the cut surface.

Step 5 – Planting Vines

After digging-out the unwanted grass, you can plant fast-spreading vines like red honeysuckles, mandevilla, or jasmines. These vines quickly cover the area around them, depleting the remaining monkey-grass roots from sunshine and moisture. Vines can be grown for just a season or two to completely remove the monkey grass, and then uprooted.

Top Questions About Monkey Grass

Click on links below to jump to that question.

Questions About Monkey Grass

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. Liriope M. ‘Royal Purple’

Can you please tell me where I can buy Liriope m. ‘Royal Purple’ seeds? I have so many feet I need to plant for edging and I’m wondering if I could plant seeds and come out cheaper than buying plants. If so, do you know where they can be bought?

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Most garden centers and nuseries should carry this plant. I would simply opt for larger (maybe gallon size) plants and break them up (divide) into smaller ones rather than planting seeds. The clumps grow fairly quick and will eventually fill in the area in question whereas seed grown plants will take much longer.

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How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. Can monkey grass be treated with weed and feed?

Can monkey grass be treated with weed and feed?

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Your best bet would be to hand pull as much as you can and then add mulch to keep weed growth to a minimum. However, you could also try sprinkling corn meal in the area, which has a chemical in it that acts as a pre-emergent on plant seeds preventing them from germinating. Sprinkling corn meal will not harm plants but will keep weeds from growing.

Another option (though not one I enjoy recommending) is the use of conventional weed killers. Here is an article that you may find helpful:

Ortho Grass-B-Gon will kill weeds but won’t harm your monkey grass.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. Is it a mole problem or insect mounds?

My mother has monkey grass along the side of her driveway and carport and it is being taken over by lots of red dirt mounds that are flat and spread out. New ones have a granular sandy texture that seemed to have lots of tiny holes. But when we dig into the mounds there is nothing there. We are split among neighbors and other experts as to whether these are caused by moles or ants.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. Growing Monkey Grass From Seeds

I have monkey grass seeds and would like to plant them around my house. Can I dig a trench two inches deep and add soil to cover, or do I need to start them indoors first?

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Yes, you can simply scatter seeds in the trench, cover and water well. It may also help to add either a starter fertilizer or compost to the soil prior to planting.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. Groundcover and Monkey Grass Trimming

If I plant clover or some other ground cover in bare spots in my lawn, will it spread and look good throughout the rest of my lawn? If I mow it, will it continue to grow back and look good?

When do I trim back the monkey grass in my flower bed? And how close to the ground do I cut it?

How to Plant Monkey Grass

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Q. how do you dig up and transport and replant monkey grass?

We have monkey grass in our bottom and want to dig it up successfully and replant in other areas.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

As long as you provide them with adequate water while they are establishing themselves, you can do this now. It also helps to make certain that all the roots are included when lifting and sometimes pruning them back will help alleviate transplant shock as well.

(Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Variegatus’)

Perennial Plants

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey Grass, Striped Mondo Grass Overview

Below are common attributes associated to Monkey Grass, Striped Mondo Grass.

Water Needs: Low

Level of Care: Low

Flower Color: White

Average Width: 1′ to 2′

Average Height: 1′ to 2′

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Tip: Controlling And Dividing Liriope (Monkey Grass)

I had to sink some cinder blocks into the ground to hold back soil my foundation Holly hedge is planted in. The blocks do a great job, but the exposed top halves were rather unsightly. How to Plant Monkey Grass

I planted liriope in front of the blocks. The liriope hides the blocks and helps to give the lawn a more complete look. For now, it also helps take the eye away from some sparse grass in the area where newly sown grass will soon emerge.

A lot of people like liriope very much, but are reluctant to grow it for fear they cannot keep it under control. I know from personal experience liriope will spread aggressively. Once it has spread past it’s desired site, it can be very difficult to remove. It’s underground runners spread quickly and when digging them up, it’s almost impossible to get them all. I have solved that problem, at least for the way in which I use liriope. I simply plant the liriope in pots and sink the pots into the ground, level with the surrounding soil. Using an empty pot for measurement, I dig a hole just the size to accommodate the pot. Then, another pot with the
same measurements and holding a liriope plant is placed in the hole.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

It is possible for the liriope to escape the pot, but in all the years I’ve grown it in pots sunken into the ground, I’ve never had this happen. Liriope grows quickly. A small plant will soon fill these pots and become root bound.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

For me this is a blessing rather than a nuisance. I always need more plants. Division of liriope grown in pots couldn’t be easier.

Lifting the liriope for division can be done while leaving its pot in the ground. Just grasp all the foliage together and give it a tug. It should release from the pot with all soil intact. To divide the clump, lay it on a steady surface. Place a long serrated knife into the top center of the ball of soil. Saw from top to bottom all the way through the clump. You should end up with two neat divisions.

How to Plant Monkey Grass How to Plant Monkey Grass

One division can be centered in a new pot and filled with soil. The other division can be placed back into the inground pot from which it was taken and the pot filled with soil.

I have many pots of liriope. They all came from one pot which has been divided many times over the years.

If you want to grow liriope but fear it’s invasive nature, I think you can grow it in inground containers without any worry. I do.

Question: Getting Rid of Monkey Grass?


Hardiness Zone: 7b

Crystal from Batesville, MS


Getting rid of monkey grass is tough. Here is what I would do if I were you:

Monkey grass needs to be contained with a root barrier to keep it from spreading. That is because it spreads by rhizomes and bulblets. Without a root barrier of at least 12-18 inches deep, any digging, thining, or smothering you do will not work for very long. The Monkey grass will simply send out scout (roots) and pop up somewhere else in your yard.

For the summer, your best bet is to install a root barrier around whatever you can and keep it mowed as short as possible to keep the snakes away. You can also start to dig out what your can; just make sure you get all of the rhizomes. In the fall, cover what remains with a tarp and hope that by the following spring it will be dead. If more pops up, the soil will be easily workable to dig out what remains. (If you prefer, you can also cover the Monkey grass now, but I’m assuming you don’t want the eyesore during the summer.)

Regular thinning and dividing is another strategy for areas that cannot easily be covered with a tarp. A root barrier will still need to be installed these areas to prevent further spreading. No matter what methods you use, there are not any easy solutions. It may take a couple of seasons for you to get rid of it completely, so be patient.

Good luck!


Here is a very good article with pictures showing the differences of the types of grasses and how to control them. I have liriope and keep it controlled by thinning it every other year. . / 0,28012,229980,00.html
Hope this helps,

I have had monkey grass for many years and have never seen a snake or any other critters in our around it. You can put a chemical called round up on it and it will kill any vegitation in that spot. My husband cuts ours back with a week-eater.

Or you can dig it up and send all you can to me. I will take if off your hands, I am in need of it for a creek that overflows, contact me at butlersj59 AT

Any grass I need to get rid of, I put plastic over it for a few weeks, till it dies, good luck.

Send all you want to me. I would be thrilled to put it around my rock flower beds and banks.

We have tried Round up multiple times. It looks better after we spray it. We have used a weed eater to cut it out. I have mulched it over every year. It just springs back up.

Hi, do you still need monkey grass?


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Contrary to the name, this plant isn’t actually a grass at all. Instead, it’s related to lilies.

Mondo Grass

An easy-to-grow, attractive groundcover, mondo grass is especially useful as a turf alternative in shade gardens. Its grass-like foliage forms dense tufts that slowly spread over time and require no mowing. On top of the crisp foliage, small stalks of flowers appear in summer, reminiscent of grape hyacinths. Mondo grass can also make a minimalist statement as a container plant indoors or out.


Shady Situations

In many instances, shade gardens can be tricky to plant, especially when it comes to turf grass. With something as low maintenance as mondo grass, you can have the look of a lawn in shady spots, no mowing required! Mondo grass has no problem growing under large tree canopies, even between gnarled roots and rocks. However, if you are planting black foliage varieties of mondo, they will need some sun or the plants will be mostly green in full shade. In the densest shade, you might not see many blooms. Typically, mondo grass blooms in the summer; its short spikes of pale pink or white blooms appear just above (or sometimes in) the foliage of the plants. After the blooms fade, you may also see glossy dark purple to almost black berries.

Mondo Grass Care Must-Knows

Despite what the name might imply, mondo grass isn’t actually a true grass. It is in the lily family, as the dainty flowers suggest. The plants are very slow-growing and spread by stolons, or horizontal stems that are just below the soil surface. Mondo grass also has tuberous roots that allows it to store water and nutrients. This makes it easy to divide plants and establish new plantings.

When it comes to light exposure, mondo grass is not too picky. The most common green varieties can take pretty much anything from full sun to full shade. Leaf coloring may vary slightly depending on the exposure, including light green to deep emerald. Full sun is essential for the deep black-leaved varieties. The more shade, the more green the black will become.

Foliage of mondo grass is also evergreen in warmer climates. In cooler climates, there may be some dieback of the leaves, but this can easily be sheared back in early spring before new growth begins. One of the main drawbacks of mondo grass is that they are not very drought tolerant. Once established, colonies can take some drying out, but ideally will need to have consistent moisture without being in standing water.

Container Companions

Typically, mondo grass is used in a landscape setting. However, because of its slow growth rate and small size, mondo grass is an ideal plant for containers. Especially with the popularity of fairy gardens and miniature gardens in general, mondo grass is perfectly suited for these situations and pairs well with many other plants.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey grass plants are type of grasses that are usually utilized as border in yard landscaping projects. Monkey grass is a member of the lily family. What makes turfs from the lily family so desirable a landscape material is that they are quite versatile and can handle many different environmental conditions. Monkey grass plants can handle hot conditions better than a lot of shrubs and ground covers can. These plants are especially easy to grow and maintain on steep slopes where it is hard to maintain any sort of grass. All forms of monkey grass can be easily lifted, divided and transplanted whenever needed. As with most plants, monkey grass requires good drainage for best results. The brownish foliage of monkey grass should be cut back prior to new growth, usually in late February or early March. Cutting back this foliage not only promotes new growth but also helps to rejuvenate the plants. Monkey grass is a great ground cover for the lawn, growing in areas where most turf grasses won’t, such as beneath trees or along steep slopes. It can even be used as a low-maintenance lawn substitute.

Monkey grass plants looks great mixed with other foliage plants and flowers and can be successfully grown in containers. It’s a common landscaping feature in the South but is so versatile that it can grow nearly anywhere. With so many possibilities, monkey grass is truly an exceptional choice for attractive ground coverage in the lawn and surrounding landscape.

Garden Landscape With Monkey Grass Plants

How to Plant Monkey Grass

This thick ground cover resists weed invasions, is rarely affected by pests and diseases, requires little or no fertilizing and performs effectively wherever it’s needed.

Outdoor Garden With Monkey Grass Plants

How to Plant Monkey Grass

So what do these Asian natives provide that most other ground covers may not? For starters, monkey grass is easy to care for, it’s heat and drought tolerant, and it’s extremely hardy, growing in many types of soil and surviving under numerous conditions.

Monkey Grass Plants In The Garden With Concrete Walkway

How to Plant Monkey Grass

he thick dark green leaves provide a shade that works well with the sod used for the lawn and helps to establish a harmonious transition from the brick or concrete of the walkway to the lush green of the lawn.

Garden With Monkey Grass Plants And Trees

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Once in place, monkey grass requires very little in the way of maintenance, making it possible to devote more attention to other facets of the overall landscape of the yard.

Monkey Grass Plants In The Backyard

How to Plant Monkey Grass

One of the most appealing aspects of monkey grass is that the plant grows quickly and remains hardy in a variety of weather conditions.

Backyard Garden With Monkey Grass Plants As Border

How to Plant Monkey Grass

A typical application of monkey grass is as a means of creating a border along walkways leading from the driveway to the front door of the home.

Monkey Grass Plants As Ground Cover

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey grass (Liriope spicata) is a grass that is quite common in areas that are hilly or uneven because they fill in the area quite nicely.

Outdoor Yard With Monkey Grass Plants

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Characterized by linear leaves that flow gracefully upward then turning back toward the ground, monkey grass is an evergreen plant that holds up well in a wide range of climates and is relatively inexpensive to purchase and install.