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Monkey Grass Ultimate Grow & Care Guide

Monkey grass is an incredibly popular, ornamental ground cover, which many landscapers and gardeners make use of. Although it resembles usual grass, monkey grass is, in fact, an evergreen perennial with a massive amount of landscaping applications. 

With minimal maintenance and dense growth, it’s a great way to enhance the landscape of your garden. Are you considering growing monkey grass in your garden? 

Here is everything you’ll need to know for lovely, lush growing monkey grass. 

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Monkey Grass Ultimate Grow & Care Guide

What Is Monkey Grass?

What Is Monkey Grass

Although it has the very same appeal as normal grass, monkey grass is an ornamental cultivar with attractive foliage, which in some cases blooms. 

With most varieties growing between 2 to 5 inches in height, monkey grass can be used in a variety of ways to add aesthetic appeal to your garden.

Whether it be to border walkways, edging flower beds, between stepping stones or on difficult sloping areas. More so, monkey grass grows best in unfiltered light, which makes it perfect for shaded areas in which normal grass doesn’t tend to grow. 

The benefits of growing monkey grass include: 

  • Heat, Drought & Frost Tolerance.
  • Little Fertilizer is Needed. 
  • Easy Growth in almost All Soil Types. 
  • Largely Resilient to Common Pests & Diseases.
  • Eye-Catching & Attractive

Other common names for monkey grass include Mondo Grass, Spider Grass and Lily Turf.

Different Types of Monkey Grass

Different Types of Monkey Grass

It is important to note that there are a variety of monkey grass species, each with its own unique and exciting characteristics. Monkey grass is usually separated into two categories, Liriope and Ophiopogon

The Liriope variety isn’t always as common. However, it is far better suited to shady areas. The most commonly grown varieties include Liriope spicata and dwarf lilyturf. 

Mondo Grass or Ophiopogon is a far more popular option, with smaller and more exciting cultivars. For example, Black Monkey Grass. This is a darker growing species with a large amount of aesthetic appeal. 

This slow-growing cultivar is ideal for shaded areas or full sun spots (provided with enough water). This species also produces stunning little flowers in the summer. 

Dwarf varieties are also very popular as they are an easy way to add a touch of green to smaller, more difficult spots in your garden. Its slender and petite foliage do well between large stones or around flower beds.

How to Grow Monkey Grass

How to Grow Monkey Grass

Most species of monkey grass are suitable for USDA zones between 7 and 11. Almost every species is tolerant to the cold, and therefore can be grown even in regions that tend to have a colder winter. 

Before planting your monkey, it’s important to prepare the soil. Here is a quick step by step guide for you to follow: 

  1. Start by preparing the spot in which you wish to plant. While planting in Autumn is possible, most gardeners recommend planting during the spring.

    Ideally, you’ll want to pick a spot that receives the filtered spotlight. 
  2. Be sure to clear the area of any weeds. This can either be done by hand or by a systemic herbicide. 
  3. Using a spade, loosen the soil up to 8-10 inches deep. Take care to rake out any debris or large stones. 
  4. Cover 2 to 3 inches of the top with composted manure or peat moss. 
  5. Dig in a balanced fertilizer, a 10-10-10 fertilizer is preferable. 
  6. Make holes twice the size of the rootball and place your young plants into them. 
  7. Backfill with soil and gently pat down around the base to secure. 
  8. Water immediately, taking care to keep the soil moist throughout the first two weeks of planting.

Growing Monkey Grass For Your Lawn

While it may not work in all locations, it is possible to use monkey grass to replace your lawn, especially in dyer regions of America like Nevada. Usually, however, monkey grass is used as a ground cover to spruce any bare areas around your yard. 

Still, this doesn’t mean monkey grass won’t make a wonderfully eye-catching attraction to replace your usual grass, especially in areas where you are struggling to grow a luscious green lawn. 

Propagating Monkey Grass

Propagating Monkey Grass

You can usually purchase monkey grass seeds or small starter plants from your local garden centre. However, it is also possible to make lots of new monkey grass plants by means of division. 

Most gardeners recommend digging up your monkey grass every three years and dividing it to encourage growth and spread more plants around your garden. 

Here is what you’ll need to do: 

  • Gently dig up a clump with the rootball attached. 
  • Using a sterilized shovel, separate the rootball. Try to ensure at least 8-10 blades with healthy roots per division.
  • Plant divisions into prepared soil. 
  • Water generously after the first few days. 

How to Care for Monkey Grass

The most important aspects of monkey grass care will be regular watering, weeding and trimming. While monkey grass enjoys moist soil, overwatering your monkey grass can be very risky. 

Water your monkey grass every two weeks, unless it is a particularly hot and dry season. Monkey grass is quite drought-tolerant, so forgetting to water your water grass won’t mean too much damage. 

Regular weeding should be done by hand. Avoid using any harsh chemical products that may affect the growth of your monkey grass. Pull away any pesky weeds which grow around the base of your plant. 

Trimming is another very important aspect of monkey grass care. However, timing and method are very important too. It is also recommended to add a decent layer of mulch around the base of your monkey grass. 

This will help to deter any weeds from growing and help to retain soil moisture and warmth during the winter. 

How to Trim Monkey Grass

How to Trim Monkey Grass

You can start cutting back the small patches of your monkey grass using a pruning shear. You can use some grass shears, but this will depend on the age of the grass’ clump since older ones can be hard and dense should be cut through.

When trimming, you can start gathering the foliage that is arching using one hand and carefully hold it from the roots and trim it off 2 inches from the soil. It would be best to avoid trimming the new shoots’ tips.

Monkey grasses that are large can be cut using a string trimmer or a lawnmower on the highest possible setting. It is also ideal to take away the foliage that has been trimmed to ensure that the area will look clean.

Read also: How to use a string trimmer properly

Controlling Weeds Around the Monkey Grass

If you see some weeds growing around the border of your money grass, then hand pulling them is essential. But if the weed is just too much, then using a herbicide would be best to ensure that your lawn will be treated.

It is best to use at least 2% of herbicide with glyphosate by covering them with the herbicide. Just make sure to avoid applying the solution to the monkey grass.

Pest, Problems & Diseases

Monkey grass is reasonably resistant to most common garden issues. However, should your monkey grass get ‘wet feet’ or waterlogged soil, it can lead to some major problems. 

Should you notice your monkey grass turning yellow or brown and dying off, this is a clear sign that your monkey grass is suffering from root rot. If left untreated, root rot can kill off your entire plant. 

To treat root rot, simply dig up your monkey grass and replant in well-draining soil. Consider treating the soil with an organic fungicide. This should be diluted into the water at a ratio of ½ Fluid to 1 ounce of water. 

The only other issue you may encounter is during rainy seasons, where slugs and snails tend to feast on the leaves of monkey grass. Should you have an infestation, you’ll see your monkey grass dying off. 

You can either try to locate any slugs or snails and toss them off by hand or lay some slug bait around your monkey grass plants to help fend them off.

Wrapping Up Our Monkey Grass Growing Guide

Take care not to overwater your plants unless they should be in a particularly sunny spot. Follow these tips, and you’ll have plenty of lusciously growing monkey grass all around your garden. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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