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What is Dwarf Grass?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dwarf grass is one of several kinds of grass that are generally smaller than regular grass varieties. Many of these kinds of grass are often ornamental, and homeowners and others use them in rock gardens, mixed flower beds, and other kinds of decorative outdoor installations.

One popular kind of dwarf grass is dwarf mondo grass, a Japanese plant that grows from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) tall. Dwarf mondo grass is technically not a grass plant, but a lily that can survive without a lot of water. It does not do well in direct sun, but it propagates nicely, growing in and slowly spreading tufts.

Another common type of dwarf grass is dwarf pampas grass. This plant grows quite a bit larger than some other varieties, up to 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5m). It is a perennial grass of Western origin, with long stalks. These decorative grasses do well in a sunny environment.

Dwarf fountain grass is another type of larger ornamental grass plant. This is also a hardy perennial, making it popular for some kinds of installations that require less maintenance. This decorative grass has distinctive fuzzy heads, as opposed to more traditional green grass-like fronds.

Other types of ornamental grasses, like dwarf maiden grass, are large, bushy plants that compliment a bed or other “green” area, but are not made for lawn application. Other short varieties, like dwarf fescue grass, can be good when seeded in a lawn area. It’s important to distinguish between different kinds of dwarf grass, as they can be very different in size and other characteristics. Nurseries offering dwarf grass seeds can be a good source of information about any one specific variety, where getting the facts straight can be critical to correctly outfitting a flower bed, lawn, or other outdoor area.

Experienced contractors can help homeowners choose varieties of dwarf grass that best fit their outdoor spaces. Look at images of different dwarf grasses to see whether they are ornamental plants or lawn-ready varieties. It’s also important to look at the climate needs for each type of dwarf grass. These plants come from different regions and have different needs. Learning more about various kinds of dwarf grass will help property owners or caretakers make the best choice for a particular location.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On May 27, 2014

Grass is not the only option when short ornamental plants are desirable. Creepers are also a good option, like creeping thyme. From a distance, creeping thyme sort of looks like dwarf grass or moss. It's green but when it blooms, it has beautiful purple flowers. It looks gorgeous and is one of the best things to plant in flower beds or rock gardens. Some people even use it as filler for cracks in patios, etc.

By discographer — On May 26, 2014

@literally45-- I've used dwarf mondo grass for the same purpose and it worked very well. This grass grows very short and it's also compact so it fills in those spaces in the garden very well. It has a nice, dark green color. It's also low maintenance and does not require much care other than watering and periodic mowing. It grows slowly, so I only really mow it about three times a year depending on rainfall.

Dwarf mondo does well in USDA zones 5 through 10. So if you're in one of these zones, I highly recommend mondo dwarf grass.

By literally45 — On May 26, 2014

I'm thinking about using dwarf grass to fill in the spaces and cracks in the yard, mainly between stepping stones. Is this a good idea? Which type of dwarf grass is best for this purpose?

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