How to Identify Kikuyu Grass

How to Identify Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass is a fast-growing, lush and vibrant lawn type. While many people choose to have Kikuyu specially installed in their gardens, it may also start to pop up in unwanted areas such as garden beds. As such, it’s important to learn how to identify Kikuyu grass so you can know when to leave it and when to remove it. 

Kikuyu lawn

About Kikuyu Grass 

Kikuyu grass, also known as Pennisetum clandestinum, originates from East Africa where it grows in the lower tropic regions. Over the years, it has been introduced to many parts of the world including Australia, Hawaii and Arizona. Despite being categorised as a noxious weed in some parts of the world, Kikuyu grass has many qualities that make it a suitable lawn grass in Australia. 

How to Identify Kikuyu Grass 

If you suspect you have Kikuyu Grass growing in your garden, here are a few tips to help identify it. 

Know How Kikuyu Grass Grows 

Kikuyu grass is a rough, perennial, drought-resistant lawn grass that is very leafy and deeply rooted. It grows on loam, clay, alluvial and fertilised sandy soils. 

The grass spreads by numerous large creeping stolons and rhizomes thus forming a large fibrous root network. It spreads very fast by producing a network of thick, fleshy stems. This network of stems forms a thick mat above the soil surface.

It’s important to note that Kikuyu grass is highly competitive and cannot be planted amongst other grasses. It can also become highly invasive so it’s best to avoid planting near areas such as garden beds. 

Identify Kikuyu Grass Leaves 

One way to identify Kikuyu Grass is by observing the leaves. 

The leaves of Kikuyu grass have pointed leaf tips and flat leaf blades. Seeds form inside the leaf sheaths and are very small. Kikuyu grass normally obtains a height of between 70 and 150 millimetres.  

Advantages of Kikuyu Grass 

One of the greatest challenges here in Australia is to get a type of grass that can put up with dry spells. Kikuyu grass is one of the most compatible grasses for the harsh Australian climate. 

Some of the main advantages of Kikuyu Grass include:  

  • Drought resistance 
  • Grows and spreads quickly through suitable soils 
  • Tolerates a wide range of mowing heights 
  • Relatively quick recovery from fires 
  • Relatively inexpensive
Cattle walking across grass

Kikuyu Grass Uses 

Kikuyu grass is a popular pasture grass and is used to provide fodder during spring, summer and autumn in coastal areas. While it is unsuitable for feed on its own, ryegrass and oats are often directly established into the grass to provide a year-round feed supply.

Kikuyu grass also recovers quickly from hoof damage and human traffic damage and is therefore used in areas such as racecourses and golf courses.

The extensive network of roots and stems make Kikuyu grass well suited for erosion control, especially on irrigation channels. In sandy areas, it is used as a sand stabiliser. It also provides good ground cover. 

Kikuyu Grass Limitations 

The rhizomes of Kikuyu grass can cause a weed problem if not properly controlled. The grass forms dense mats which choke up other plants that grow where it is planted. It also contains some allergenic substance that can affect some people and cattle.

If you have any further questions about how to identify Kikuyu grass, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Rivers Edge Turf and we’ll be happy to help!


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