Kikuyu grass, native to East Africa, has proven to be an excellent lawn choice for the varied climates of South Africa. Named after the Kikuyu people of Kenya, this grass is admired for its robust nature, its ability to withstand periods of drought, and its rapid growth rate. Kikuyu grass’s resilient characteristics make it a popular selection for home lawns, sports fields, and public parks.

Its thick, green carpet-like appearance adds to its appeal, while its low maintenance requirements make it a practical choice. Despite intense heat or occasional frost, Kikuyu grass maintains its vibrant green hue, lending a year-round aesthetic appeal to any landscape.

Importance of choosing the right grass type for South African lawns

Choosing the right type of grass for South African lawns is of utmost importance due to the country’s varied climate conditions. A suitable lawn grass must be able to withstand South Africa’s harsh summers and mild winters. It should be drought-resistant, capable of withstanding periods of little rainfall, and should also thrive in the frequent sunny conditions.

The right grass type should be robust, capable of recovering quickly from damage—whether from foot traffic on sports fields or children playing on a home lawn. It should also be resistant to local pests and diseases, ensuring a healthy, lush lawn with minimal maintenance.

The aesthetic appeal of the grass cannot be overlooked. The chosen grass needs to maintain its color throughout the year, providing a vibrant green backdrop to the South African home.

In all these aspects, Kikuyu grass proves to be an excellent choice, providing not just resilience and low maintenance, but also year-round beauty for South African lawns.

One of the primary advantages of Kikuyu grass is its robust and resilient nature. It grows rapidly, which enables it to recover quickly from damage. This makes it an ideal choice for spaces that experience heavy foot traffic, such as sports fields and public parks.

Kikuyu grass is also highly drought resistant. It can survive in conditions of low rainfall, making it well-suited for South African climates that often experience long, dry periods. Despite the harsh conditions, this grass maintains its vibrant green colour, ensuring a beautiful lawn throughout the year.

Another significant advantage of Kikuyu is its low maintenance requirements. It is resistant to most local pests and diseases, reducing the need for regular applications of pesticides and fungicides. It also doesn’t require frequent watering or mowing, making it a practical and cost-effective choice for many homeowners and groundskeepers.

Kikuyu grass has a thick, carpet-like appearance that adds a lush, green aesthetic to any space. Its dense growth pattern also helps in preventing soil erosion, making it a beneficial choice for landscapes that are prone to erosion issues.

In essence, the advantages of Kikuyu grass extend beyond its aesthetic appeal. Its robustness, resilience, low maintenance needs, and beneficial environmental impact contribute to its popularity as a lawn choice in South Africa.

Kikuyu Grass – Characteristics and appearance

  • Kikuyu grass exhibits a dense and coarse texture, characterized by its robust, rapid growth pattern. Its broad, flat leaves are a striking bright green colour, helping it stand out from other grass types, and contributing to its lush, carpet-like appearance. Kikuyu grass typically grows to a height of 30-50mm, but can reach up to 150mm if left untrimmed.
  • The grass’s growth habit is aggressive and spreads through runners, allowing it to quickly cover bare patches and recover swiftly from damage. This is facilitated by its extensive root system, which can delve deep into the soil, thus ensuring its resilience during periods of drought.
  • Kikuyu grass also produces small white flowers during its growing season, which runs from early spring to late autumn. These add to the visual appeal of the lawn without detracting from the overall green aesthetic.
  • In terms of touch, Kikuyu feels springy underfoot due to its dense growth, providing a comfortable surface for outdoor activities. Its high wear tolerance, coupled with its striking appearance and texture, make Kikuyu grass a highly suitable choice for a variety of outdoor spaces, from home lawns to professional sports fields.

How to Care for Your Kikuyu Grass Lawn

Caring for a grass lawn, while relatively straightforward, does require some attention to ensure it remains healthy and vibrant.

Watering

Kikuyu grass is drought-tolerant, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t appreciate a good watering. In the dry season, water once or twice a week, making sure the soil is thoroughly soaked. During wet periods, nature will take care of the watering for you.

Fertilizing

Feed your Kikuyu lawn with a slow-release nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the growing season. Apply it in early spring to kickstart growth, and again in mid-summer to maintain its lush green appearance. Always water thoroughly after fertilizing to ensure nutrients are absorbed into the soil.

Mowing

Kikuyu grass grows quickly and may require weekly mowing during peak growing seasons. Aim to keep the height between 30-50mm for a dense, lush lawn. Regular mowing encourages lateral growth, improving the grass’s density and appearance.

Weed Control

Kikuyu’s rapid growth typically outcompetes most weeds. However, if weeds appear, apply a selective herbicide designed for broadleaf weeds. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying herbicides.

Pest and Disease Control

Good lawn hygiene can prevent most pests and diseases. This includes regular mowing, removing leaf litter, and ensuring your lawn is not overly wet. If a problem arises, use suitable fungicides or insecticides, taking care to follow safety precautions and application instructions.

Proper Edging

Due to the aggressive growth habit of Kikuyu, proper edging is crucial to prevent it from invading other areas of your garden. Regular trimming around the edges of your lawn can keep this fast-growing grass in check.

Common Problems with Kikuyu Grass and How to Avoid Them

Despite its many benefits, Kikuyu grass isn’t without its problems.

  • Overgrowth: Due to its rapid growth rate, Kikuyu grass can easily become invasive, encroaching on garden beds and other areas. This overgrowth can be managed by regular mowing and edging. Consider installing a root barrier around your lawn to prevent the grass from spreading beyond its intended area.
  • Susceptibility to Frost: While Kikuyu grass is drought-resistant, it is not frost-tolerant. In areas with heavy frost, the grass may brown during winter. However, it usually recovers quickly with the arrival of warmer weather. To minimize frost damage, avoid watering your lawn in the evening and early morning when frost is most likely to occur.
  • Pests and Diseases: While generally hardy, Kikuyu grass can sometimes fall prey to lawn grubs or fungal diseases, especially in overly wet conditions. Ensure good lawn hygiene by regularly mowing, removing leaf litter, and avoiding overwatering. If problems persist, use appropriate fungicides or insecticides, ensuring you follow safety precautions and application instructions.
  • Nutrient Deficiency: Kikuyu grass can sometimes show signs of nutrient deficiency, such as yellowing leaves, which can be due to a lack of nitrogen. Regular fertilizing, especially during the growing season, can help prevent such issues. Opt for a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer and ensure you water thoroughly after application to enable nutrient absorption into the soil.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kikuyu Grass

Common inquiries from South African lawn owners

LAWNCARE PLUS EXPERT TIPS – Expert answers and practical solutions

Expert tip: Best practices for mowing Kikuyu Grass
Mow your Kikuyu lawn regularly but avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass height in a single mowing session. Keep the grass at a height of around 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) to promote healthy growth and prevent scalping.

Expert tip: Fertilization schedule for Kikuyu Grass

Fertilize your Kikuyu lawn during the growing season, which typically falls in spring and summer. Use a balanced fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio suitable for lawns. Follow the package instructions and avoid over-fertilization to prevent thatch buildup.

Managing-thatch-in-Kikuyu-grass
Managing thatch in Kikuyu grass

Expert tip: Managing thatch in Kikuyu lawns

Thatch is a layer of dead grass and organic debris that can accumulate between the green grass and soil surface. To manage thatch, dethatch your lawn using a specialized dethatching rake or hire a professional to aerate and dethatch your lawn when needed.


Expert tip: Kikuyu Grass in shady areas

While Kikuyu Grass prefers full sun, it can tolerate light shade. However, in heavily shaded areas, it may struggle to thrive. Consider planting shade-tolerant grass varieties in those spots or explore alternatives like shade-tolerant ground covers.

Expert tip: Winter care for Kikuyu Grass

In colder regions, Kikuyu Grass may go dormant during winter, turning brown. This is normal and not a cause for concern. Avoid heavy foot traffic on the lawn during this time, and refrain from fertilizing until the grass starts actively growing again in spring.
By addressing these frequently asked questions and providing expert answers, South African lawn owners can confidently embrace the benefits of Kikuyu Grass and ensure their lawns remain vibrant and healthy throughout the year.

Nic

I am a lawn care treatment specialist whose passion for working outdoors has blossomed into a thriving business. What sets me apart is my dedication to understanding each lawn’s unique needs. I don’t just apply generic treatments; I assess soil conditions, identify specific grass types, and tailor my approach accordingly. This personalised touch has earned me a reputation for delivering exceptional results. I now offer comprehensive lawn care solutions, including planting, executing meticulous cleanups, and even crafting stunning landscapes. My team and I value building relationships with our clients, taking time to educate them about proper lawn care practices, empowering them to maintain healthy, beautiful lawns year-round.