Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Classy Groundcovers

Mondo grass is a sod-forming perennial that serves as a hardy and attractive groundcover in a garden or backyard setting. As an alternative to regular grass, mondo is a low maintenance turf that never needs to be mowed. Its rich green color helps provide definition to your landscape, allowing the features of the garden to stand out. While technically a member of the lily family, this evergreen plant has the appearance of a lush, hardy grass with slender blades. The summer months mark the appearance of small, blue berries that blend in naturally with the plant’s green leaves.

This ornamental plant is a popular choice for use along garden borders, between stones, and in flower beds. Mondo grass is also commonly used in those stubborn areas around trees, as it spreads rapidly — even in shady locations. Mondo establish themselves quickly and do well in most any type of soil. They are a good solution in areas where water conservation is necessary since they do not require a lot of water and can typically withstand heat and drought conditions. Weed control is also quite simple, giving mondo a distinct advantage over traditional grasses. Mondo grass typically reaches a height of 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm).



Varieties of Mondo Grass

Those who prefer a tidier look may want to consider dwarf mondo grass as an alternative. The leaves of dwarf mondo are more closely-cropped and compact, reaching a height of only 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm). This gives the groundcover more of a well-maintained look. This ornamental grass works well between stepping stones or as a bulk ground cover and can grow just about anywhere in the yard.

Black mondo grass is a unique groundcover that has seen a strong rise in popularity as well. With its rich, black leaves, black mondo provides a striking contrast that really brings out the color of other garden plants and flowers. The plant grows tiny, pink blooms in the summertime that create a dramatic look along any border or garden pathway. Like other mondo grasses, black mondo is easy to maintain and grows in most soil types.

The Liriopes

Closely related to mondo grass is the lilyturf known as liriope muscari. This tufted perennial has a grassy foliage with long, purple flowers. It can be used as an edging for pathways and driveways or as groundcover in a garden or low-traffic area of the lawn. Those looking for less prominent flowers may wish to consider its close cousin, liriope spicata.

Ornamental grasses come in a variety of tones and textures and most of them persist year round no matter what the weather. These plants are a wonderful addition to any backyard and are ideal for filling in spaces where nothing else seems to grow. They are extremely important for controlling soil erosion and to help reduce soil evaporation. They also provide a lush canvas that helps your brightly colored plants and flowers to truly shine.


Mondo Grass Comparison

NameHardiness ZonesMature HeightBest Uses
Mondo Grass (monkey grass, ophiopogon japonicus)6-106 to 10 inchesborders, edging, ground cover, erosion control
Dwarf Mondo Grass (dwarf monkey grass, dwarf lilyturf)6-102 to 4 inchesground cover/turf grass substitute, edging, under-planting
Black Mondo Grass5-106 to 10 inchesground cover, borders, edging, under-planting, rock gardens

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