What is Dwarf Mondo Grass?

Anna T.

Dwarf mondo grass is a low growing, dark green plant native to Korea and Japan that grows together in clumps. Despite the name and appearance, this plant is actually a member of the lily family. People often use it for decoration in flower beds and to mark the borders of paths and gardens. It is also considered a good choice for lawn cover because its height doesn't typically exceed four inches (10 cm), and mowing may only be necessary once a year. Unlike most plants, dwarf mondo grass can also retain its dark green color under drought conditions because it doesn't require much sun and typically has lower water requirements than other types of turf.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Planting dwarf mondo grass to cover a lawn can be very labor intensive. Before planting, three inches (7 cm) of weed-free compost should be cultivated into the ground to a depth of 12 inches (30 cm). Most people buy bare-root sprigs of the grass from garden centers or wholesale suppliers and plant them individually in the ground, spaced six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) apart. If a person has a large lawn, this could take a lot of time. Dwarf mondo grass seed is available as well, but it is not normally recommended to use for ground cover because it may not all come up.

Once the sprigs are properly planted, the grass should begin to grow and spread outward, eventually covering the desired area. The sprigs generally need water every day until they are established. A monthly application of fertilizer may also help to ensure proper growth. The recommended fertilizer to use for dwarf mondo grass if 5-10-15, and supplementing with a liquid fertilizer during the first six months of growth may also be helpful. Weeds can be controlled with herbicide, but may have to be pulled out by hand in between grass clumps.

Many people prefer dwarf mondo grass over regular turf because of its attractive appearance and low maintenance requirements. In spite of the possible benefits, this plant may not be a good choice for everyone. After planting, it can take as long as three years to completely establish itself. It is also not very strong, and likely won't hold up to as much wear and tear as regular turf grass. People with lawns that see a lot of traffic due to pets or children may want to consider investing in a stronger type of grass.

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Discussion Comments


@bear78-- Establishing dwarf mondo grass is the hardest part. Once it's established, it usually spreads very quickly.


@SarahGen-- I agree with you. This is why I also selected dwarf mondo grass for my yard, because it's low maintenance.

Of course this grass has downsides too. Like the article said, it takes a lot of work to use dwarf mondo grass for a full lawn. It took my lawn about two and a half years to look and feel right. Dwarf mondo grass grows in clumps. So in the beginning, it looks like there are bald spots in the lawn and it's not very pleasant to walk on. It takes a long time for the clumps to come together and look like a real lawn. But once it gets there, it's great and there is little care or maintenance required afterward.


I have dwarf mondo grass in my flower beds, as well as a filler between stepping stones and in cracks. I'm so happy with this grass. Not only is it beautiful, but I also don't need to do much to maintain it. In fact, I have neglected it a little bit lately and it still looks as good as ever. So this is a great grass for people who don't have a lot of time on their hands.

The only issue that I have experienced is that dwarf mondo grass can develop a little bit of winter burn in December and January. Mulching seems to protect it though and after mowing and new growth in springs, the grass is back to its lush green color.

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