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Monkey Grass: Types and Characteristics

Monkey grass serves to be a salient ground-cover adding dimension to your lawn. Read on to have a landscape worth treasuring.
Azmin Taraporewala Jul 14, 2019
Monkey grass, also christened as ophiopogon japonicus in scientific nomenclature, is a grass used as a border for landscaping the yard or the garden. The grass does flaunt a few more names by which it is called. Lily turf, liriope and snakesbeard are the alternative identification names.
It originally hails from the country of Japan. You could have Japanese garden plants and line it with monkey grass that has linear leaves growing in an upward direction, which then revert to the ground.
The mondo grass (yet another name) is predominantly preferred for laying down a border for yards, and making the landscape look enviably beautiful. It is also used in bordering the pathway that leads you to the front or the main door of the house.

Characteristic Features of Monkey Grass

Monkey grass has thick, dark and lush green leaves that create a seamless transition from concrete walls of the house, the doorway to the soothing greens of the landscape. It is the most cost-effective option to line the garden. As the grass has an evergreen property embedded into its genetic makeup, it suffices to be a one time investment.
Creating a grass border conclusively, will give you the liberty to change the flora within the grass border as and when you like. Rest assured, the grass will remain lush green and sustain the winter chills and the humid summer. The grass is extremely low on maintenance. Once planted, it doesn't need repeated inspections and routines demanding care.
The low maintenance claim needs to be supported by valid reasons and here they are:
  • Monkey grass is pest-resistant
  • Exhibits high level of resilience toward plant diseases.
  • Conforms to weed control strategy
  • Does not require a soil type to grow, nor does the soil need to maintain a particular ph level.
  • Demands no fertilizers or a rare fertilizer application dose.
Another feature worth the mention is the growth capability of the grass. The monkey grass is a fast-growing grass. Due to a variety in the monkey grass clan, one needs to choose the most appropriate member.
There are some types that require sunlight and some that are a part of shade-loving plants. Some of them might spread along and spill over the border while some stay grouped or clumped together.

Types of Monkey Grass

Ophiopogon japonicus

Also called mondo grass, this is the most popular choice of most garden, and landscape lovers. Sizing between 6 to 10 inch, this type of grass performs well when placed in a shaded area. It is characterized by fine, needle-like leaves and belongs to the spread grass clan.


Also referred to as the black mondo grass, the arabicus, too, belongs to the spread grass clan, the arabicus spills over and spreads like carpet. The leaves are a dark shade of green.
The lawn looks all the more ornate if plants having light shades and colors are planted within the dark green borders of the lawn. It is 8 to 10 inches in height and requires a shaded area to work wonders for your garden or backyard.


This type of mondo grass bears white and green stripped leaves. The lilyturf hails from the clump family. It is 8 to 12 inches in height and adapts to shaded environment. The lilyturf has a strong hold of the soil, thereby preventing soil erosion.


The nana grass or the monkey dwarf is reckoned as an option apt for lining the pathways and driveways. It grows 3 inches tall. It is the tiniest of all as the other species of monkey grass scale up to 12 inches in height. It grows fine grass like foliage and is juicy green in color.

Liriope Muscari

Monkey grass liriope is grass commonly used for bordering pathways and walkways. Purple-spiked blooms is their characteristic feature, which is carried forward by the purple berry blooms. Liriope spicata is another form that spreads aggressively and wildly.
It is for this reason, that this grass should not be planted in small gardens. It could prove hazardous to other plants as its wild spreading tendency might choke up the plants. Large gardens is the right place for Liriope spicata to bloom as it has ample leverage to spread and still not harm the plants.

How to Grow Monkey Grass from Seeds

1. Refurbish the soil with compost or fertilizers at least two to three inches deep and sow the grass seeds. The best time to sow these seeds is during spring.

2. Construct a structure referred to as dividers, for your monkey grass to be planted. Make sure that the dividers are made with utmost precision, so that the grass does not spread to unwanted areas.
3. Using your hand as a seed sowing instrument, sow half the slot of seeds walking in one direction and the rest by walking in the opposite direction.
4. Shuffle the soil a bit and cover it with the topsoil and compost.
5. Water the area after the plantation process is complete. Remember, that monkey grass does not need water in abundance. A controlled water supply twice a week after the plantation, is what is required.
Monkey grass is a great way to embellish your garden and a great landscaping idea. It serves to be an ornamental plant that your garden can wear with finesse at any time of the year. Don't forget to add a spray of care to your lawn. Lawn care, indeed, makes all the difference!