How to Kill Kikuyugrass


The kikuyugrass species (Pennisetum clandestinum) is native to the African continent, according to Michigan State University. It was imported to the United States in the early 1900s and has since grown to be a popular lawn turfgrass. In some areas, it has escaped the confines of backyards and become an invasive weed. A combination of physical removal and chemical control can keep kikuyugrass in check.


Step 1

Treat your lawn with a pre-emergent herbicide like pendimethalin or bensulide in the spring month of March. This stops all kikuyugrass seeds in your lawn from germinating, thereby breaking the weed's life cycle.

Step 2

Remove any kikuyugrass bunches in your turfgrass that are already present. Young seedlings can be plucked out by hand. Established bunches can be uprooted using a handheld spade.

Step 3

Spot treat the kikuyugrass with a systemic herbicide like glyphosate if manual removal is too difficult. Apply the herbicide directly on the plant and try to limit the amount of herbicide that gets on your turfgrass, as it will kill all types of vegetation.

Garden Beds

Step 1

Spray your flower or vegetable beds with pre-emergent herbicides like pendimethalin or oryzalin in March. If you plan to plant new ornamental plants or vegetables via seed, wait to do so for eight to 10 weeks after applying the herbicide.

Step 2

Dig out the kikuyugrass that's already growing. Use a handheld spade. Avoid hacking away at the grass with a hoe or a power tool like a cultivator; this simply chops up the grass's rhizomes and encourages each separate piece to grow into a new plant.

Step 3

Spray the kikuyugrass with a post-emergent herbicide for widespread control on open patches of dirt. This is typically faster than manual removal. Use any herbicide with sethoxydim and fluazifop, according to the University of California.

Step 4

Mulch your garden or flower bed heavily after removing the weed. An organic mulch such as wood chips, or an inorganic mulch like plastic sheeting, will keep new kikuyugrass from invading the area.

Things You'll Need

  • Handheld spade
  • Pre-emergent herbicide
  • Post-emergent herbicide
  • Systemic herbicide
  • Mulch


  • "Ecological Management of Agricultural Weeds"; Matt Liebman, et al.; 2007
  • Michigan State University: Kikuyugrass
  • University of California Pest Management Program: Kikuyugrass
Keywords: kill kikuyugrass, remove kikuyugrass, eliminate kikuyugrass

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.