How to Grow and Maintain Kikuyu Grass

The guide to establishing and maintaining Kikuyu turf.
Joanne Harris and Daniel Bubnich /

Having an evergreen, thick garden does sound like a dream come true. But it doesn’t have to be a dream! Kikuyu is a nice, dense, budget-friendly grass, that with the right maintenance, can look like it’s from a cover of a magazine. So for your convenience, we give you our handy guide on how to grow and maintain Kikuyu grass.

Characteristics of Kikuyu grass

In order to learn how to care for this grass, you need to know its main characteristics and we are starting with the following question.

What exactly is Kikuyu grass?

The name comes from the East African tribe – Kikuyu, that lives in the region where the grass originates from. It’s wildly spread in Australia, New Zealand, and the southern region of California (USA). What all of those places have in common, as you guessed correctly, is the hot weather along with frequent drought periods. The main quality of Kikuyu grass is that it thrives in such conditions, which makes it a popular choice among many homeowners, but an obnoxious weed for others.

Here is what you need to know about this rapid grower:

  • It has amazing regenerative powers that heal it quickly if damaged and can recover from a severe frost in no time.
  • It stands up tall in almost any weather conditions, even in the hottest days of the year, due to it’s strong, deep root base.
  • This same root system also helps to control erosion on steep banks.
  • It has broad shaggy leaves that can reach up to 40 mm in length and 5 mm in width.
  • It’s one of the few types of grass that manages to keep it’s lush green colour throughout the whole year.
  • It’s budget friendly!

How to successfully grow Kikuyu grass

The whole process itself is not hard. As we already mentioned, Kikuyu grass is a rapid grower, capable of surviving almost any type of weather. In order to help you achieve the right results with even less effort, we have gathered a couple of tips and tricks that you can apply when growing Kikuyu grass:

  • The perfect place to grow this grass would be in a big open space with very little shade. The main condition for Kikuyu to grow, live long, and prosper is to have as much sunlight as possible. This makes it very suitable for golf courses or a big backyard used for sports.
  • It’s recommended to do some ground preparation before you lay down the grass itself. If you have decided to go with a professional company, they will do all the work for you – level the ground, spray the soil, and hoe wherever is needed. However, if you are more of a DIY type of person, make sure to inform yourself about all the required soil preparations beforehand.
  • Although Kikuyu grass can be adapted to a wide range of soil types, it grows best in a fertile, moderately drained sort, for example, red basalt or an alluvial, moist sandy soil. You can expect a perfect performance with a pH from 5.5 to 7.0.
  • Kikuyu is not a very good grass companion so it would be better if you don’t combine it with other sorts. The plant is highly competitive and will suppress anything growing around it, including weeds. Still, there are some types of flowers, like clovers, that could live along with it.

How to establish Kikuyu grass

Now that you have completed all the ground preparations, it’s sowing time. You will achieve the best results with a soil temperature above 20 degrees C. Anything lower than that and you will slow down the whole process. Keep the ground moist for the next two weeks, which is the approximate time the grass needs to take root. After that, make sure to water the turf every other day for another week, and you are done! Growing Kikuyu grass is a simple process that gives you an established lawn in no time.

General Kikuyu grass maintenance tips

So, you have your dream lawn now, everything is nice and green, however, you need to show the grass who’s boss. Here are some important rules in Kikuyu lawn care you must obey when maintaining your successfully established turf:

Watering Kikuyu grass properly

The first 14 days are super important for the grass and the watering needs to be as frequent as possible, which means at least two times a day. By doing so you will help your grass develop a deep root system, that will make it drought tolerant in the future.

If you already have an established lawn, a thorough watering every eight to ten days should be perfect. However, if your soil is a dry sandy type, do it at least once a week. There is no need to include watering of the grass in the list with winter lawn maintenance tasks.

How to mow Kikuyu turf

Kikuyu grass is mostly known for its abrasive nature, so if you want to have a neat, good looking lawn, you have to maintain it regularly. That includes weekly mowing. Keep in mind that the parts under the sunlight grow a lot faster than the ones that are in the shade.

Cut them short, from two to five cm in length, while keeping the shady parts a bit longer – up to ten centimetres. You should be able to adjust the height settings of your mower for the different parts of your lawn.

How to fertilize your Kikuyu lawn

Kikuyu is a fast, stubborn grower even without any fertilisers. Still, if you want to walk the extra mile, go for a slow-release lawn feeding product with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Apply the fertiliser once in early Spring and after that in the first weeks of Autumn.

Known Kikuyu grass problems

Most of the problems of Kikuyu grass could be also considered as strengths. Being a strong, overpowering grass is good, as it will prevent weed growth, but it also makes it difficult to plant anything else as it will immediately suffocate every foreign sign of life.

Still, if there are some bald patches in your lawn, weeds will take the first chance to grab onto them. The density and strong character of this grass, though, cannot prevent potential pest infestations. Lawn grubs and worms are the most popular pests that usually infest Kikuyu grass lawns.

Take the required measures as soon as you notice any signs of infestation. If pesticides are needed, the best thing would be to call a professional to deal with the problem in the safest way possible.

Professional lawn mowing by Fantastic Gardeners

Still, if your busy schedule does not allow you to take care of your Kikuyu grass lawn, you can always leave it in the hands of professionals.

Fantastic Gardeners Melbourne works with certified garden technicians, trained to give the best possible results in every situation. Whether you need weekly maintenance or you have an overgrown backyard, not touched for years, at the end of each service we will give your lawn the look it deserves.

Professional lawn care services in your area!

Enjoy a lush and thriving lawn!

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  • Choosing Kikuyu grass for your lawn is generally a good choice, as there aren’t many other types that can both survive warmer weather conditions and preserve their colour and shape.
  • However, if you do not take control from the beginning, it could easily turn in to a nuisance to both you and any other green life in your garden.
  • Regular maintenance is not hard, so there is no problem to do it yourself. Depending on the size of your lawn, from two to three hours per week should be enough to keep the grass looking fresh.
  • In the case of a pest infestation, turn to a professional immediately.
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Jeff Prothero
Jeff Prothero
3 years ago

A helpful article. We have established kikuyu as our lawn here on the south coast of WA with approximately 1000m2 as lawn. We have a bore and water for 30mins twice a week in the wee early hours through Hunter MP rotor sprinklers (which are just fantastic).
We have a weed infestation however, mostly clover, woody sorrel and an assortment of flat weeds.
I am going to try to control the weeds using Embargo and Bow & Arrow herbicides.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Prothero

Did you have success with controlling the weeds ?

Lekhori Motsoari
Lekhori Motsoari
2 years ago

I have just planted the grass a week ago and therefore will share experiences as it grows. The article is very informative and quite helpful. Thank you

The Fantastic Team
9 months ago

Thank you! We’re glad it’s helpful to you. How’s the progress going?

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