How To Plant Monkey Grass [ Full Guide ]

Monkey grass, also known as lilyturf or mondo grass, is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that adds beauty and texture to gardens, landscapes, and outdoor spaces. It’s a popular choice for ground cover, edging, and as a border plant due to its rugged nature and lush, grass-like appearance. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps of planting monkey grass, from selecting the right location to preparing the planting area and caring for your monkey grass to ensure it thrives.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Monkey Grass

  • Select the right location with well-draining soil and partial shade.
  • Prepare the planting area by removing weeds and tilling the soil.
  • Choose healthy monkey grass plants and prepare them for planting.
  • Dig holes and space the plants appropriately.
  • Water the plants well after planting and maintain moisture until established.
  • Mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Now, let’s delve into the details of each step, exploring the benefits of growing monkey grass and the specific considerations you should keep in mind for successful planting.

Benefits Of Growing Monkey Grass

Before diving into the specifics of planting monkey grass, it’s important to understand the benefits and advantages of incorporating this plant into your outdoor spaces.

1. Low Maintenance

Monkey grass is well-known for its low maintenance requirements. Once established, it requires minimal upkeep, making it an ideal choice for busy homeowners or those seeking a fuss-free garden addition.

2. Erosion Control

The dense root system and spreading nature of monkey grass make it an excellent choice for controlling erosion on slopes and hillsides. Its ability to hold soil in place makes it a valuable asset in preventing runoff and stabilizing the landscape.

3. Weed Suppression

With its dense growth habit, monkey grass acts as a natural weed barrier. Once it fills in, it effectively suppresses the growth of unwanted weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides or manual weeding.

4. Ornamental Value

Beyond its practical benefits, monkey grass also adds ornamental value to outdoor spaces. Its dark green foliage and graceful arching habit create a visually appealing contrast and texture, making it a popular choice for edging flower beds or lining pathways.

5. Versatility

Monkey grass is versatile and adaptable, thriving in a range of conditions from full shade to partial sun. It can be used in various landscaping applications, from mass planting to container gardening, offering flexibility in design and usage.

Choosing The Right Location

Selecting the right location is crucial for the successful growth of monkey grass. Consider the following factors when choosing a planting site:

1. Sunlight

Monkey grass thrives in partial to full shade, making it an excellent choice for areas with limited sun exposure. While it can tolerate some sun, especially in cooler climates, it generally prefers shaded conditions to prevent leaf scorching.

2. Soil Drainage

Well-draining soil is essential for the health of monkey grass. Avoid planting in areas prone to standing water or poor drainage, as this can lead to root rot and other issues. If your soil has drainage problems, consider amending it with organic matter to improve its structure.

3. Soil Ph

Monkey grass is adaptable to a wide range of soil pH levels, but it generally prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of your planting area and make adjustments if necessary to provide optimal growing conditions.

4. Existing Vegetation

Take note of any existing vegetation in the planting area. Remove any competing vegetation such as weeds or grass to give your monkey grass the best chance to establish itself without competition for resources.

5. Climate Considerations

Consider the climate of your region when selecting a location for monkey grass. While it is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of temperatures, it’s important to account for extreme heat or cold conditions and provide appropriate care as needed.

Preparing The Planting Area

Once you’ve identified the ideal location for planting monkey grass, it’s time to prepare the site to ensure optimal growing conditions for your new plants.

1. Clear The Area

Begin by clearing the planting area of any existing vegetation, including weeds, grass, and debris. Use a garden hoe, shovel, or weed trimmer to remove unwanted growth, ensuring that the area is clean and free from competing plants.

2. Soil Preparation

After clearing the area, prepare the soil for planting by tilling or loosening the top layer. This allows for better root penetration and promotes healthy growth. If the soil is compacted, consider incorporating organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve its structure and fertility.

3. Weed Control

To prevent weeds from encroaching on your monkey grass, consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide or laying down weed fabric before planting. This extra step can help minimize weed competition and reduce maintenance efforts in the long run.

Selection And Preparation Of Monkey Grass

When it comes to planting monkey grass, selecting healthy plants and properly preparing them for planting are vital steps in ensuring their successful establishment and long-term vitality.

1. Choosing Healthy Plants

When purchasing monkey grass, look for plants with vibrant green foliage and well-established root systems. Avoid specimens that show signs of disease, pest infestations, or stress, as these issues can hinder their growth and resilience.

2. Pre-Planting Care

Upon bringing your monkey grass plants home, it’s essential to provide them with proper care before planting. Keep the root balls moist but not waterlogged, and shelter the plants from direct sunlight or harsh elements until you’re ready to get them in the ground.

Planting monkey grass can be a rewarding and relatively straightforward task when approached with the right knowledge and preparation. By choosing the right location, preparing the planting area, and selecting healthy monkey grass plants, you can set the stage for successful growth and long-term enjoyment of this versatile and attractive plant. With its low maintenance nature, aesthetic appeal, and practical benefits, monkey grass is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape, providing lasting beauty and functionality for years to come.

Planting Techniques: Seeds Vs. Plugs

Monkey grass, also known as Liriope, is an excellent ground cover that is widely used in landscaping projects. It is known for its lush, dark green foliage and its ability to thrive in a variety of growing conditions. Monkey grass is easy to maintain and is quite versatile, making it a popular choice for both residential and commercial landscapes.

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When it comes to planting monkey grass, you have two main options – planting seeds or using plugs (small sections of mature plants). Both methods have their pros and cons, and the choice depends on your preferences and specific circumstances.

Seeds: Planting monkey grass from seeds is an economical option, but it requires more time and patience as it takes longer for the grass to establish itself. Begin by preparing the soil in the desired area by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches using a garden fork or tiller. Then, sprinkle the seeds evenly over the prepared soil, aiming for a rate of about one tablespoon per square foot. Lightly rake the seeds into the soil to ensure good soil contact. Water the area thoroughly and keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, usually within two to four weeks. Once the seedlings have grown to about an inch, thin them out, leaving approximately 6 to 12 inches between each plant.

Plugs: Planting monkey grass plugs is a quicker method to establish a lush ground cover. Begin by preparing the soil as mentioned earlier. Dig holes that are twice as wide and just as deep as the plugs you have. Typically, plugs are spaced about 6 to 12 inches apart, depending on the variety and desired coverage. Place each plug in the hole centered and at the correct depth, so the top of the plug is level with the surrounding ground. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the plug to remove any air pockets. Water the area thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure good contact between the plug and the ground.

Consider the size of the area you are planning to cover, your budget, and the level of patience you have when deciding between seeds and plugs for planting monkey grass.

Proper Spacing And Planting Depth

Proper spacing and planting depth are essential for the healthy growth and development of monkey grass. Whether you choose to plant seeds or plugs, ensuring the right spacing and planting depth will encourage the grass to spread evenly and result in a visually appealing ground cover.

Spacing: Monkey grass requires adequate space to grow and expand. When planting plugs, the spacing will typically range from 6 to 12 inches apart, depending on the variety and the desired coverage. Spacing them too closely will lead to crowded plants and slower growth. On the other hand, spacing them too far apart will result in gaps and thin coverage. By following the recommended spacing guidelines, you can achieve a dense and lush ground cover.

Planting Depth: Both seeds and plugs need to be planted at the correct depth to ensure successful establishment. When planting monkey grass plugs, make sure the top portion of the plug is level with the surrounding soil. Planting too deep can cause the plant to become suffocated and may lead to rotting. When planting seeds, aim for a planting depth of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Planting too deep can prevent the seeds from receiving adequate sunlight to germinate.

Remember to consider the specific requirements of the variety you are planting, as spacing and planting depth may vary slightly for different cultivars. Always refer to the product packaging or consult with your local nursery for specific instructions.

Watering And Fertilizing Tips

Proper watering and fertilization are crucial for establishing and maintaining healthy monkey grass. The following tips will help you ensure that your monkey grass thrives in optimal conditions.

Watering: Adequate watering is essential during the initial establishment phase as well as throughout the growing season. Newly planted monkey grass should be watered immediately after planting to settle the soil and ensure good root contact. In the first few weeks, water the area thoroughly to keep the soil consistently moist. As the grass starts to establish, reduce the frequency of watering but increase the amount of water each time. Aim to provide 1 inch of water per week during the growing season. Remember that monkey grass is drought-tolerant once established, but it still requires regular watering to maintain its vitality and lush appearance.

Fertilizing: Monkey grass is relatively low-maintenance and doesn’t require frequent fertilization. However, providing some nutrients will promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Before planting, work a slow-release fertilizer into the soil based on the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide a steady supply of nutrients over an extended period. Additionally, you can apply a balanced, general-purpose fertilizer in early spring and again in late summer to stimulate growth. Follow the fertilizer’s package instructions carefully, taking care not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth and weaker root systems.

Mulching And Weed Control

Mulching and weed control are important aspects of planting monkey grass. Proper mulching helps to conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth, while proactive weed control ensures the health and appearance of your monkey grass.

Mulching: After planting the monkey grass, applying a layer of mulch will help retain soil moisture and control weed growth. Use organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded bark, and spread it evenly to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Make sure not to pile the mulch directly against the base of the plants, as this can promote rot. Instead, leave a small gap between the mulch and the stems. Mulching will also enhance the visual appeal of your monkey grass while simultaneously protecting the soil and promoting healthy growth.

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Weed Control: Monkey grass is generally resistant to weeds once established, but it is still essential to suppress weed growth during the initial establishment phase. Before planting, remove any existing weeds and their root systems. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the area to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Follow the package instructions, taking care not to apply the herbicide directly on the monkey grass. Once the monkey grass has established itself, hand-pull any emerging weeds, being cautious not to disturb the surrounding plants. Regularly inspect the area and promptly remove any unwanted vegetation to maintain a healthy and attractive ground cover.

Planting monkey grass can be a rewarding endeavor that will enhance the beauty and functionality of your landscape. By understanding the different planting techniques, proper spacing and planting depth, watering and fertilizing tips, as well as mulching and weed control tactics, you can successfully establish and maintain a lush and vibrant ground cover.

Whether you choose to plant seeds or plugs, ensure spacing and planting depth are appropriate for the variety you are growing. Water and fertilize the monkey grass adequately to facilitate healthy growth and development. Apply mulch to conserve moisture and control weed growth, and implement proactive weed control measures to maintain the health and appearance of your monkey grass.

With the right planting techniques and maintenance practices, your monkey grass will flourish, providing a beautiful and resilient ground cover that will enhance the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space.

Preparing The Soil

Monkey grass is a resilient plant, but preparing the soil properly can greatly enhance its growth and establishment. Start by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller to a depth of about 6-8 inches. This helps to improve drainage and allows the roots of the monkey grass to establish more easily.

If the soil in your garden is heavy clay or lacks organic matter, consider amending it with compost or well-rotted manure. This improves soil fertility and provides essential nutrients for the growing monkey grass. Spread a layer of compost or manure over the prepared soil and mix it thoroughly to ensure even distribution.

Planting Monkey Grass

Now that the soil is prepared, you are ready to plant the monkey grass. Start by digging a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. Place the monkey grass plant into the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the plant to remove any air pockets.

Space the monkey grass plants about 12-18 inches apart to allow them sufficient room to spread and grow. For larger areas, you can also consider planting in rows with a similar spacing between each plant. After planting, thoroughly water the area to help settle the soil and encourage root growth.

Maintenance And Care

One of the many advantages of monkey grass is its low-maintenance nature. However, the following maintenance practices can help ensure healthy growth and a beautiful appearance:


Although monkey grass is relatively drought-tolerant, it still requires regular watering, particularly during dry spells. Water deeply, ensuring that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Once the plants are established, they generally require less frequent watering. Aim to provide approximately 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or additional irrigation.


Applying a layer of organic mulch around monkey grass plants can help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch such as wood chips, pine needles, or shredded bark around the plants, being careful not to pile it directly against the stems. Mulch should be replenished annually to maintain its effectiveness.


Monkey grass generally does not require regular fertilization, particularly if the soil has been amended with organic matter at planting. However, if the plants show signs of nutrient deficiency or slow growth, you can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper application rates. It is recommended to avoid excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, as they can promote excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production.


Pruning monkey grass is not always necessary, but it can help maintain a neat and tidy appearance. In late winter or early spring, before new growth emerges, trim back any damaged or discolored foliage. You can also cut back the old leaves to allow new growth to shine. However, avoid cutting into the crown of the plant as this can damage the growing point.


Over time, monkey grass tends to spread and form dense clumps. Dividing the plants every three to four years helps control their growth and rejuvenates the clumps. Divide monkey grass in early spring or fall when the plants are not actively growing. Use a garden fork or shovel to carefully dig up a clump, being cautious not to damage the roots. Divide the clump into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has a good root system. Replant the divided sections at the same depth as before, spacing them apart to allow for further growth.

Common Pests And Diseases

While monkey grass is generally pest and disease-resistant, there are a few common issues to be aware of:

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Slugs And Snails

Slugs and snails can sometimes feed on the young leaves and shoots of monkey grass. To control these pests, remove any debris or leaf litter where they can hide during the day. You can also set up barriers such as copper tape around the plants or use organic slug pellets.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that can affect monkey grass, causing brown or black spots on the foliage. To prevent leaf spot, avoid overhead watering and provide good air circulation around the plants. If leaf spot is already present, remove and destroy the affected leaves and consider applying a fungicide labeled for use on liriope, following the instructions carefully.

Root Rot

Root rot can occur if the soil is overly saturated or drainage is poor. To prevent root rot, ensure that the planting area has proper drainage and avoid overwatering. If root rot is already established, it can be challenging to save the affected plants. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove and destroy the infected plants to prevent the spread of the disease.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Despite its resilience, monkey grass can sometimes face problems that hinder its growth and appearance. Here are a few common issues and their solutions:

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves in monkey grass can be a sign of stress, nutrient deficiency, or overwatering. Evaluate the plant’s water needs and adjust the frequency accordingly. Ensure the soil has good drainage and the plant receives adequate sunlight. Check for any signs of pests or diseases and address them promptly. If nutrient deficiency is suspected, consider applying a balanced fertilizer.

Browning Tips

Browning tips on monkey grass can occur due to underwatering, hot weather, or excessive fertilization. Increase watering frequency if the soil is dry, and provide shade during periods of intense heat. Avoid over-fertilizing, particularly with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Trim off the brown tips to improve the plant’s appearance.

Slow Growth

Slow growth can occur due to inadequate sunlight, poor soil conditions, or overcrowding. Ensure the plants receive sufficient sunlight for at least a few hours per day. Test the soil and amend it with compost or organic matter if necessary. If overcrowding is the issue, consider dividing the clumps to allow for better growth and spacing.

Harvesting And Propagation Methods

While monkey grass is not typically grown for its harvestable produce, there are a few ways to propagate and harvest this versatile plant:

Harvesting And Trimming

In late winter or early spring, before new growth emerges, you can trim or mow monkey grass to remove any dead or damaged foliage. This process helps promote new growth and keeps the plants looking neat. Use hand pruners or shears to trim back the leaves to a height of about 3-4 inches above the ground.

Propagation By Division

As mentioned earlier, dividing monkey grass every few years not only helps control its growth but also provides an opportunity for propagation. Divide the clumps into smaller sections, ensuring each section has sufficient roots. Replant the divided sections in new locations or share them with other gardeners.

Propagation By Seeds

While monkey grass can be propagated by seeds, it is a slower and less reliable method compared to division. Seeds can be collected from the plant’s flowers once they have dried and turned brown. Sow the seeds in a seed tray or small pots filled with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and place the tray in a warm and bright location. The seeds will germinate within a few weeks, and the seedlings can be transplanted into the garden once they are well-established.


Planting monkey grass (liriope) can be a rewarding experience, as it offers year-round interest with its attractive foliage and low-maintenance requirements. By selecting an appropriate location, preparing the soil, and following proper maintenance practices, you can ensure healthy growth and a beautiful appearance for your monkey grass plants. Remember to address any pests or diseases promptly and divide the plants periodically to maintain their vigor. With a little care and attention, your monkey grass will thrive and enhance the beauty of your garden.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Monkey Grass?

The best time to plant monkey grass is in the early spring or fall, when temperatures are mild and there is enough moisture in the soil for the plant to establish itself.

How Do I Prepare The Area For Planting Monkey Grass?

Before planting, it is important to remove any existing weeds or grasses from the area. Loosen the soil and mix in a layer of compost or well-aged manure to improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil.

How Far Apart Should I Plant My Monkey Grass?

Space your monkey grass plants about 8-12 inches apart. This will allow enough room for the plants to spread and fill in the area, creating a lush ground cover.

How Much Sun Does Monkey Grass Need?

Monkey grass thrives in partial to full shade, making it a great option for shaded areas in your yard. However, it can also tolerate some sun, as long as it receives enough moisture.

How Often Should I Water My Newly Planted Monkey Grass?

Water your monkey grass regularly for the first few weeks after planting to help it establish itself. After that, it can withstand periods of drought, but will still benefit from occasional watering during dry spells. A general rule of thumb is to give the plants 1 inch of water per week.