How To Get Rid Of Monkey Grass

Monkey Grass

Last Updated on July 30, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

To remove monkey grass, follow these steps:

  • Trim the plants close to the ground
  • Cover the area with a thick layer of cardboard or newspapers
  • Apply mulch on top
  • Repeat until the monkey grass weakens and dies
  • Regularly monitor and remove any regrowth

What Is Monkey Grass?

Monkey grass (Liriope) is also known as creeping lilyturf. It is a grass-like plant usually used as a border plant or ground cover and whose origin is in Asia. Despite the name of this plant, it is neither a lily nor grass but a member of the Asparagaceae (flowering plants) family. 

Monkey grass grows aggressively when in the right conditions since it uses runners to spread. 

Types Of Monkey Grass

There are two kinds of monkey grass, one that is clumpy and does not spread a lot. The other variety spreads aggressively and has long leaf blades.

Creeping Lilyturf (Liriope Spicata)

This type of monkey grass is quite aggressive in spreading, and it can engulf all plants in your garden. Its root system is massive and spreads fast by runners, making it quite hard to control. 

Big Blue Lilyturf (Liriope Muscari)

This type of monkey grass does not spread fast and remains where you plant it. The plants get clumpy over time, and you can quickly get rid of them by digging up. During flowering, the plants look very beautiful and make your lawn attractive. 

How To Eliminate The Monkey Grass

While it is possible to use monkey grass as ground cover or as borders for a garden, most people take it as a weed and need to kill it. The method used to get rid of this plant may depend on its type. The following steps are practical;

Digging It Up

Although digging up the plants is time-consuming, it is one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods to kill monkey grass. The following simple steps will help;

1. Trim the grass until it is one inch above the ground to destroy its crowns. 

2. Remove as many roots as possible by digging the grass, and be sure to dispose of the dug plants and seeds to prevent them from growing afresh. Use a shovel or spade to dig around the plant. You can then either cover the tilled ground with newspaper or plastic to suffocate any plants and prevent them from re-growing. Tilling the area where the monkey grass was will also help to eliminate any invisible plants. 

3. Keep checking the affected area for about two weeks for any regrowth. Ensure that you dig up again to remove the remaining roots. After digging, spray the plants with white vinegar, but be careful not to destroy other plants. 

Controlling The Grass

You can control and contain the monkey grass by putting up a barrier to minimize its spread. The best time to do this is when sowing new seeds or during summer. Ensure that this barrier goes down about 12 to 18 inches for it to be effective. Using shallow walls may not work well since the grass may go under them and sprout on the other side. 

Barriers can be plastic sheets, trenches, mulch, landscaping fabric, or in-channels dug close to the monkey grass. 

Combining the barrier with digging will help to eliminate all the unwanted plants. You may also use plastic fabric or landscaping to cover the affected area, as doing this helps to suffocate any roots that may be underground. 

Containing The Monkey Grass

If you want to use this plant as a border, you can easily control it by planting it in containers. You can avoid putting the plant directly into the ground but instead, use pots and then sink them side by side. Apply mulching over them and let them grow naturally. Doing this will prevent the runners from spreading and invading other nearby spaces. The monkey grass planted this way will create a lovely border that does not need to be dug over time. 

However, you may need to remove and divide the pot-bound plants. You can plant the extra monkey grass in other spaces, use it for compost, or give it away. 

Applying Chemicals To Kill The Grass

The application of herbicides that contain glyphosate is an effective method that helps to kill monkey grass fast.  But, be sure to follow these tips not to affect other plants;

1. Cut the monkey grass first before applying the chemicals since fully grown grass may not respond well. You can use it two to three times before the plants start dying.

2. Spray the herbicide when it is sunny and not windy for better results. It is also essential to be sure that it won’t rain the following day as this would wash away the chemical hence hindering its efficiency. 

3. Avoid using this method if there are some edible plants in the garden or yard. 

Engaging A Professional

If the above methods fail to work, you can call a professional to help eliminate the monkey grass. These experts will ensure that the monkey grass is stopped quickly and permanently. You will also get advice on how to prevent regrowth and maintain a healthy yard. 

Since calling in an expert may not be cheap, ensure that you get the right person with experience. Doing this will help you to get the best services that meet your expectations. 

How Can You Kill Monkey Grass Permanently?

The most effective way to kill monkey grass quickly is to use an herbicide containing glyphosate, such as Roundup. This chemical is efficient on broad-leaved plants since it enters them through the leaves. The following easy steps are helpful;

  • Let the plant grow prominently until it has large leaves
  • Do not dig the surrounding area before applying the chemical
  • Avoid spraying during a rainy day but instead, wait until it is sunny. Applying the herbicide during rain will be counter-productive as it will be washed away. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Monkey Grass

– Acts as a robust ground cover that is resistant to harsh conditions– Spreads rapidly and can invade unwanted areas.
– Suitable for combating soil erosion due to its dense growth– Its thick growth may choke other plant varieties.
– Withstands heavy foot traffic, making it perfect for pathways– Difficult to remove once established.
– Requires minimal maintenance and care– Can harbor pests like slugs or snails.
– Grows well in both sun and shade– The berries it produces can be toxic to pets and humans.
– Enhances the aesthetic appeal of the garden with lush green foliage– Some varieties may become dormant and brown during winter.
– Provides excellent weed suppression– Regular trimming is needed to maintain its size and shape.

Why Do Some People Love Monkey Grass As A Border Or Ground Cover?

  • It is easily available
  • It is a low-maintenance plant that is simple to care for since it needs no fertilizer
  • Tolerant to heat and usually evergreen
  • Most types have showy flowers
  • The plant tolerates drought, shallow soil, and deer and can withstand frequent crushing by bicycles and car tires. 
  • Controls weeds since they will grow thick and form a mat-like border
  • There are different varieties to choose from

Which Plant Can Be An Alternative To Monkey Grass?

For gardeners looking for an alternative plant to monkey grass, mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicas) comes in handy. This plant is also low-maintenance, thrives in well-drained soil, and likes filtered sun to shade. It has dark and fine foliage, making it a perfect choice for a small or formal garden, and it can grow up to a height of two to twelve inches, depending on the type. 

 Mondo grass comes in three varieties, O. planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black Mondo) which grows well in containers, Ophiopogon japonicas (green mondo), and Ophiopogon jaburan ‘Vittatus’ (variegated mondo).. This plant looks beautiful when you pair it with something that is bright yellow or greenish. 

How To Differentiate Mondo From Monkey Grass

Monkey Grass

Mondo Grass

Broad leaves 

Narrow leaves


Bright blueberries

Flower stalks are showy, and they stick above the foliage.

Flower stalks are shorter and hidden underneath the foliage.

Leaves show signs of disease or insect damage and winter discoloration. 

Leaves are unlikely to show winter discoloration signs.


You can get rid of monkey grass by using a chemical spray that contains glyphosate or digging up and stopping its spread. But, the practical method will depend on the type of this plant. It is also possible to control the grass from taking over your garden by planting it in containers as doing this will prevent its runners from spreading to other areas where it is unwanted.