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Monkey Grass: Friend or Foe?

by Kelly Richardson, All About Lawns Columnist

Monkey grass is perhaps one of the more recognizable lawn and garden plants across the United States. It's resiliency is legendary, making it a favorite ground cover or bed border. However, if it's not kept in check, it can quickly take-over an entire lawn region. Friend or foe? You decide.

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The Essence of Sustainability

Landscaping trends are quickly leaning toward self-sustaining varieties of plants and flowers. Monkey grass, also known as mondo grass, certainly falls into this category. Southern Living sings the praises of monkey grass with respect to its low-maintenance qualities.

  • Tolerance. Monkey grass can thrive in poor soil conditions, periods of intense drought and various foraging insects and animals
  • Multiplication. No need to seed this evergreen, sod-forming perennial--just split the base and replant in a new location
  • Anti-weed. A thick root structure can resist most varieties of weeds and can even kill weeds that are already present

When Good Grass Goes Bad

Despite its long list of positives, monkey grass can become a flora non grata without proper turf management. The winding properties of its blades can burrow into other areas of your landscaping that you might wish to remain true. This can be an issue particularly around bedding or any border region. Prudent management includes examining strands periodically and cutting back if invasiveness occurs. Also, the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service describes a fungal disease known as anthracnose as the most common problem for monkey grass. Removing infected leaves and applying a recommended fungicide can solve this problem.

By far, the benefits of monkey grass seem to far surpass the negatives. With a little know-how and dedicated care, monkey grass could be a winning choice for your lawn.


About the Author
Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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