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Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is native to the highland regions of east Africa and is a vigorous, hardy grass that is known for its excellent wear and drought tolerance. With its fine, dense leaf and soft texture, Kikuyu grass is highly prized for its beautiful winter colour.

Kikuyu is a warm-season turf variety that prefers temperatures in the 15 to 25 degrees Celsius range making it ideal for most parts of the Country. During winter months, Kikuyu will become dormant, and will stop growing when exposed to frost.

The best growing conditions for Kikuyu are fertile, light to medium textured soils with moderate drainage and salinity levels. In ideal soil conditions, Kikuyu needs a pH of 5.5-7.0, but it can tolerate pH levels as low as 4.5.

Over all Kikuyu grass is one of the hardiest, best looking, cost-effective grasses on the market.

The soft leaf of Kikuyu grasses like Kenda®Kikuyu also makes it popular for homeowners with pets and children. 

Characteristics of Kikuyu Grass

Wear Tolerance

Kikuyu grass has excellent wear tolerance and a quick recovery rate due to its large prostrate runners and vigorous rhizomes which give it a strong deep rooted base. For kids and pets which slip and slide all over your lawn, Kikuyu grass is one of the toughest varieties to cope with high activity in your backyard and is quick to repair from wear and tear.

Drought Tolerance

Kikuyu grass has a high drought tolerance thanks to its large prostrate runners and excellent growth rate.

These large prostrate runners also allow Kikuyu grass to actively seek soil moisture and establish a lot quicker than other lawn types – two to three weeks.

Fine Leaf and Winter Colour

Many homeowners prefer Kikuyu grass due to its dense, bright green soft leaf which gives the lawn an elegant, uniform appearance.

One of the many traits that homeowners love about Kikuyu grass is its ability to stay green for longer during the winter.

With a little extra love through applying fertiliser during winter, the green colour of your Kikuyu grass will be the envy of your neighbours.

Poor Shade Tolerance

Kikuyu grasses are a sun-loving variety, and as such, are not recommended for gardens that are heavily shaded. Your Kikuyu lawn will require at least 5-6 hours of sunlight each day to thrive.

Highly Invasive

Kikuyu is widely used for larger areas and for erosion control since it spreads very rapidly by stems and roots. With its strong growth habits, it can easily invade and spread all over your garden, so requires maintenance to keep it looking great and under control.

Kikuyu Grass Maintenance

Watering

Like all lawns, to keep your Kikuyu in top condition, you will need to water it.

Newly installed Kikuyu needs to be watered within 30 minutes of being laid. You should apply at least 20-30mm of water to a newly laid Kikuyu lawn, ensuring you provide enough water to soak the soil to between 70mm to 100mm.

Once your Kikuyu’s root system is fully established, you will only need to water when you see signs of slight leaf wilting. By not overwatering, this will cause the grass to grow deep roots in order to draw moisture from the soil in hot, dry conditions.

In general, when restrictions do not apply, water your Kikuyu grass every 7 – 10 days in summer and less frequently, or not at all, in cooler months.

Check out our article on the dos and don’ts of watering your lawn

Mowing

Keeping a lush, healthy lawn involves mowing a Kikuyu lawn regularly as it grows rapidly. Some Kikuyu varieties have prolific seed heads, which means they require frequent mowing to keep them looking good. New Kikuyu varieties, such as Kenda Kikuyu, are sterile and are not a fast growing therefore require less maintenance.

For best results, Kikuyu grass should be mowed between 30mm and 40mm in height throughout the year.

During warmer months, you will need to mow your Kikuyu lawn every 7 – 10 days. In heavily shaded areas, you should leave your grass longer, and mow to a height of 50mm-70mm.

During cooler months, you’ll only need to mow every 3 – 6 weeks.

As Kikuyu is a grass that can develop a thick thatch layer one method of control is through cutting your lawn very low. Thatch is a layer of dead plant material that forms between the soil surface, and the green leaves of your lawn. It can accumulate over time, giving your lawn a spongy feel when you walk on it. To find out more ways on how to dethatch your Kikuyu lawn visit our great hands-on story on dethatching.

Fertilising

Kikuyu lawns are highly responsive to nitrogen, which means they will show lots of leaf growth when an abundant amount is applied. Hence, you should use slow-release fertilisers during the warmer months, to ensure that leaf growth doesn’t get out of control.

Aim to fertilise your Kikuyu lawn three times a year in late spring, mid to late summer and late autumn.

To find out more on how to select a fertiliser for your Kikuyu lawn and how to apply it, have a look at our fertilise guide story

Weeds

Due to the dense growth features of Kikuyu grass, it is quite resistant to many weeds compared to other turf varieties. However, any weeds should first be removed by hand, or treated with a herbicide, to avoid spreading.

A wide range of herbicides are available, depending on the type of weeds, have a look at our guide on how to use herbicides

Pests

Kikuyu’s growth characteristics make it quite a hardy lawn in terms of pest resistance.

You may need to watch out for these lawn pests in your Kikuyu grass – Lawn Grub (for example, Webworm or Army Worm) and the African Black Beetle. If you see evidence of these pests, apply a suitable insecticide to your lawn.

Find out the best time to apply herbicides and insecticide suggestions in our article

Diseases

Kikuyu grasses are susceptible to a fungal disease called Kikuyu Yellows. Kikuyu Yellows infects the root system, causing root rot and subsequently grass death in a circular pattern.

The grass at the centre of the circle dies off,  leaving the area susceptible to invading weeds and other grasses. However, new varieties, such as Kenda Kikuyu have been bred to be resistant to this disease.

A good fungicide is paramount in helping your combat any diseases you may find in your Kikuyu grass, learn more through our fungicide user-guide story.

Popular Kikuyu Grass Varieties

myhomeTURF has one of the most popular Kikuyu grass’ on the market – Kenda Kikuyu which suits the lawn needs of every homeowner.

Kenda Kikuyu

Kenda®Kikuyu –  has four times as many rhizomes as common Kikuyu so can handle all kinds of wear and tear – either from large dogs or very active kids.

Even with lots of activity, Kenda Kikuyu holds it good looks and remains soft underfoot.

Thanks to large prostrate runners, Kenda Kikuyu is very water efficient and drought tolerant making it ideal for regions where water restrictions are imposed.

Kenda Kikuyu was bred to be predominantly sterile and produce minimal seed head, reducing its chances of invading surrounding garden beds and paths.

With minimal seed head, Kenda Kikuyu is also an ideal lawn choice for allergy sufferers.

Where it grows:  Kenda Kikuyu grows well in southern Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Expect to pay: Between $9 and $16 per square metre.

For expert advice on the right grass selection for your home, speak to your local turf farmer or supplier. Use Find a Turf Supplier to locate a supplier in your area.

Recommended Products for Kikuyu Grass

Check out myhomeTURF’s online store for a range of lawn care products suitable for your Kikuyu lawn.

LawnPride Maintain 26-2-9 + 3.4 Fe 20kg

Lawn Pride Maintain 26-2-9 + 3.4 Fe is one of the most popular granular all-round lawn fertilisers on the market with the active ingredients of Nitrogen (N – 26), Phosphorus (P – 2), Potassium (K – 9) and Iron (Fe – 3.4). It is suitable for application on Kikuyu grasses.

SHOP NOW

Oxafert

OxaFert is a combination product containing both a fertiliser and pre-emergent herbicide, which can be used for the treatment of Summer Grass, Crowsfoot Grass, Winter Grass and Creeping Oxalis in your Zoysia lawn.

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Bow and Arrow 500mL

Bow and Arrow is an effective broadleaf liquid herbicide, suitable for use on Kikuyu grass. It can be used to treat White Clover, Plantain, Capeweed, Cat’s Ear, Bindii, Cudweed and Creeping Oxalis.

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Acelepryn GR 10kg

Acelepryn GR provides unmatched granular seasonal control against Long Grub and Caterpillar control in one single application. Suitable for Kikuyu turf.

SHOP NOW

Chlortan 1L

 

Chlortan 1L liquid Fungicide is perfectly suited for the control of Brown Patch, Dollar Spot and Grey Leaf Spot on lawns. It is suitable for use on Kikuyu grass.

SHOP NOW

In Conclusion

Kikuyu grass is a warm season grass that thrives brilliantly in the Australian climate. It copes exceptionally well with high temperatures and water restrictions but fails when it comes to shade tolerance. Due to Kikuyu lawn’s high wear tolerance, fine leaves and lush deep green colour it is a highly sought-after family lawn. It is the perfect solution for busy backyards, as it can withstand the pressures of pets, children and heavy foot traffic.

myhomeTURF recommends one high performing sterile Kikuyu variety that is perfectly suited to Australian conditions, does not spread as rigorously and has low seed head – Kenda.

For expert advice on the right grass selection for your home, speak to your local turf farmer or supplier. Use Find a Turf Supplier to locate a supplier in your area.

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