How to Plant Kikuyu Grass: Simple Steps

how to get rid of kikuyu grass

Wondering how to plant Kikuyu grass? You’re in the right place! This guide will provide you with practical steps to cultivate a healthy and resilient Kikuyu lawn.

To plant Kikuyu grass, prepare your soil by spreading nitrogen-rich manure about an inch deep. Sow your Kikuyu grass seed, using about 10 to 12 grams per square meter or 4 kilograms per acre for residential lawns. After 3-5 weeks of growth, apply a broadleaf herbicide like Turfix as per the instructions provided.

Keep reading to learn more about nurturing your Kikuyu grass, including expert tips on fertilization, watering, and routine maintenance.

What is kikuyu grass?

Kikuyu grass, scientifically known as Pennisetum clandestinum or Cenchrus clandestinus, is a warm-season turfgrass that originates from the highland regions of East Africa. It’s named after the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya, indicating its African roots.

This type of grass is well-known for its aggressive and vigorous growth, spreading quickly through its extensive network of coarse creeping stems. It thrives in areas with moderate temperatures and can tolerate heat quite well. Thanks to its deep root system, Kikuyu grass can withstand drought and recover from damage efficiently, making it a popular choice for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields.


How to identify kikuyu grass

However, correctly identifying Kikuyu grass can be a bit tricky if you’re not sure what to look for. Here are some kikuyu grass characteristics that can help you identify Kikuyu grass:

  1. Leaf Blade: Kikuyu grass has flat, broad leaf blades that are about 4-5mm wide. The leaves are usually light green in color.
  2. Stolons and Rhizomes: One of the distinct features of Kikuyu grass is its vigorous growth habit. It spreads aggressively through stolons (above ground stems) and rhizomes (below ground stems), which makes it a robust and hardy grass species.
  3. Growth Habit: Kikuyu grass grows rapidly and can quickly take over a lawn or field. It’s often described as having a ‘creeping’ growth habit because of the way it spreads across the ground.
  4. Flowering: When allowed to grow unchecked, Kikuyu grass will produce seed heads that are thin, compressed spikes. These seed heads are typically 4-5 cm long.
  5. Root System: Kikuyu grass has a dense and deep root system which allows it to tolerate drought conditions.
  6. Color: Kikuyu grass maintains its bright green color throughout most of the year, although it can brown off in colder climates during winter.

Images of kikuyu grass

how to plant kikuyu grass

Types of Kikuyu Grass

The most common types of kikuyu grass are;

  1. Whittet Kikuyu: Rapid, Resilient, Common
  2. Common Kikuyu: Standard, Fast-growing, Hardy
  3. Oakridge Kikuyu: Drought-resistant, Thick, Lush
  4. Noonan Kikuyu: Coarse, Disease-resistant, Robust
  5. Village Green Kikuyu: Water-efficient, Less-invasive, Modern
  6. Kenda Kikuyu: Fast-growth, Wear-tolerant, Ideal

How to Plant Kikuyu Grass

Are you wondering when to plant kikuyu grass? The ideal time to sow Kikuyu grass seeds is from early spring to early autumn, as the soil temperature during these seasons is optimal for germination and growth. However, if you’re installing Kikuyu sod, it can be done at any time of the year.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to plant Kikuyu grass:

  1. Prepare the Soil: Clear the area of any existing grass or weeds. Loosen the soil using a garden tiller or hoe to a depth of about 15 cm to improve soil structure for root penetration.
  2. Apply Manure: Spread nitrogen-rich manure about an inch deep across the prepared area. This will enrich the soil, providing essential nutrients for growing Kikuyu grass.
  3. Sow the Seeds: Scatter the Kikuyu grass seeds evenly over the manure, using about 10 to 12 grams per square meter or 4 kilograms per acre for residential lawns. Make sure the seeds have good contact with the soil for successful germination.
  4. Water Regularly: After sowing the seeds, water the area thoroughly. Maintain consistently moist but not waterlogged soil. You should start to see sprouting within 10 to 14 days. Continue watering for a few more weeks until the grass is well established.
  5. Apply Herbicide: Following the instructions after 3-5 weeks of growth, apply a broadleaf herbicide like Turfix. This will help control any weeds competing with the Kikuyu grass for nutrients.



Kikuyu grass is resilient, fast-growing, and adaptable to various climates, making it an excellent choice for lawns subject to dry spells and high foot traffic.


Best Fertilizer for Kikuyu Grass

When it comes to choosing the best fertilizer for Kikuyu grass, a few factors should be taken into consideration. According to various sources, the most effective fertilizers are those that contain a variety of macro and micro nutrients.

Kikuyu grass responds well to nitrogen-based fertilizers, which promote healthy and vigorous growth. Thus, a nitrogen-based fertilizer would be an excellent choice for Kikuyu grass.

Cool Atlantic Kelp, an organic fertilizer option, has been recognized as beneficial for lawns. It provides a range of nutrients that can help improve the soil’s health and promote the growth of Kikuyu grass.

Slow-release granular fertilizers are also effective. They should be applied at a rate of 20-25g/m2 or 2-2.5kg/100m2. For best results, it’s recommended to fertilize at least three times per year.

Fertilizers for established lawns should be applied at low rates during spring, summer, and autumn to maintain the lawn’s health and appearance. 

Pro Tip: Remember to balance your use of nitrogen with other nutrients. While Kikuyu grass is highly responsive to nitrogen, using too much can be detrimental. Therefore, pick a lawn fertilizer that offers a balanced blend of nutrients and apply it at the lower end of the recommended rate.


Kikuyu Grass Maintenance

Maintaining a lush and healthy Kikuyu grass lawn involves several key steps:

  1. Watering: Kikuyu grass is naturally drought-resistant but still requires regular watering, especially during hot and dry periods. Water your lawn deeply once or twice a week rather than shallowly every day to encourage deep root growth.
  2. Mowing: Kikuyu grass grows rapidly and thus requires frequent mowing during the growing season. Aim to keep your lawn at a height of about 2-3 inches. Mowing at this height will help to maintain a dense turf and prevent weed growth.
  3. Fertilizing: Apply a nitrogen-based fertilizer three times a year: in early spring, late summer, and early autumn. This will provide the nutrients necessary for vigorous growth and help to maintain a vibrant green color.
  4. Weed Control: Apply a broadleaf herbicide if necessary to control any weeds. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
  5. Aerating: If the soil becomes compacted, it may be necessary to aerate your lawn. This can be done using a lawn aerator, which removes small plugs of soil from the lawn to improve air circulation.
  6. Top Dressing: If your lawn has low spots or areas where the grass is thin, consider top dressing with a thin layer of compost or soil. This can help to level out the lawn and promote new grass growth.


Benefits of Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass is known for its numerous benefits, making it a popular choice for lawns, especially in areas with a warm climate. Here are some of its key advantages:

  1. Fast-Growing and Self-Repairing: Kikuyu grass grows rapidly, so any damage it sustains is quickly repaired. This makes it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas where the grass may be subject to wear and tear.
  2. Low Maintenance: One of the significant benefits of Kikuyu grass is that it requires relatively little maintenance. It can survive under various conditions, including gardener neglect.
  3. Drought-Resistant: Kikuyu grass is highly drought-resistant, making it suitable for areas prone to dry spells.
  4. Nutrient-Rich: Kikuyu grass is rich in protein, fiber, and minerals, contributing to improved animal growth, milk production, and overall health.
  5. Bushfire Protection: Interestingly, Kikuyu grass has been found to provide significant protection benefits for property during bushfires.

However, it’s worth noting that while Kikuyu grass has many benefits, it also has a few drawbacks, such as its fast growth rate, which can lead to it taking over other plants if not properly managed.


How to Dethatch Kikuyu Grass

Dethatching is an essential process for maintaining the health and appearance of your Kikuyu grass. Here are some steps to effectively dethatch your Kikuyu lawn:

  1. Scalping: Start by scalping the grass as close to the ground as possible. This will help to remove the thatch layer effectively.
  2. Dethatching: If the thatch layer is thick, hire a dethatching machine to cut through it. Then, use a lawn mower and reduce the height before returning to the dethatcher.
  3. Aeration: After dethatching, it’s recommended to core aerate your lawn. This helps to improve air circulation and promotes more profound root growth.
  4. Fertilizing: Apply a suitable fertilizer once you’ve dethatched and aerated your lawn. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the grass to recover and thrive.
  5. Top Dressing: Finally, top-dress your lawn with sand. This can help level out uneven spots and encourage new grass growth.

The best time to dethatch Kikuyu grass is late spring or early summer. This is when the grass is actively growing and can recover quickly from the stress of dethatching.

Dethatching is generally recommended only for warm-season grasses such as Kikuyu, couch grass, zoysia, and buffalo grass. Always follow proper lawn care practices to maintain a healthy and attractive lawn.

FAQs: Kikuyu Grass

How to plant Kikuyu grass? 

Planting Kikuyu grass can be done by sowing seeds, laying sod, or spreading sprigs. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and debris, then apply your chosen form of Kikuyu grass evenly across the area. Water it well and keep the soil moist until the grass is established.

Is Kikuyu grass a weed? 

Kikuyu grass is not typically considered a weed. It’s a popular lawn grass due to its rapid growth and resistance to drought. However, because it spreads quickly, it can invade other areas and become a nuisance if not correctly managed.

How fast does Kikuyu grass spread? 

Kikuyu grass spreads quickly due to its vigorous growth habit. It can cover a large area quickly, especially in warm, sunny conditions with adequate water.

How to get Kikuyu grass green? 

To keep Kikuyu grass green, ensure it receives enough water (but avoid overwatering), fertilize it regularly with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and mow it regularly to encourage dense growth.

How fast does Kikuyu grass spread? 

Kikuyu grass can spread very quickly under ideal conditions. Its rate of spread will depend on factors like sunlight, water availability, and soil quality, but in general, it’s known for its rapid growth.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining a healthy and vibrant Kikuyu grass lawn can be a rewarding experience. It not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space but also provides an excellent area for relaxation and recreation.

We encourage you to share your lawn care successes and challenges with us. Your experiences enrich our community and help us provide more relevant and practical advice. Stay tuned for more articles on lawn care

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