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How to Grow Kikuyu Grass


Mow the kikuyu grass to a height between 1 and 3 inches. Cutting it shorter can injure it.


In some parts of the country, particularly along the California coast, the state agriculture department has classified kikuyu grass as a noxious weed because of its aggressive growth and invasive habits. Check with your state department of agriculture or your local county extension agent about this before you plant kikuyu grass.

Kikuyu grass is a warm-weather turf grass that spreads by sending out underground rhizomes. Originally native to the tropical parts of Africa, kikuyu grass was brought to California in the 1930s. It grows quickly and vigorously. Kikuyu grass withstands drought, significant foot traffic and partial shade--and, once established, it doesn’t require much attention. It’s a favorite for golf courses and pastures and is useful for controlling erosion, as its strong roots and runners hold the soil in place. Plant kikuyu grass seed in the spring or very early summer.

Use 50 to 100 pounds of seeds per acre, or 1 to 2 pounds for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Chill the seeds in the refrigerator for five days, if possible--this will help improve the rate of germination.

Find a site to plant the kikuyu grass where it will get anywhere from four to eight hours of sunlight per day. Kikuyu grass will thrive in almost any kind of soil, so you don't need to add anything to your soil to encourage the grass to grow.

Dig up the soil well with the shovel to loosen it (about 3 inches deep); smooth out the soil, then water it so the entire area is damp but not soaking wet.

Plant the grass by drilling or broadcasting the seeds. To drill, dig narrow trenches in the soil, no more than 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch deep, and about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Scatter the grass seeds thinly over the soil in the bottom of the furrows and cover them with 1/2 inch of dirt or mulch. To broadcast, scatter the seeds thinly out over the entire area and then cover with 1/2 inch of dirt or mulch. Do not water the soil immediately after you plant the seeds.

Check the soil a couple of days later for moisture by putting the tips of your fingers into the soil. If the soil is barely or completely dry, water the seeds again, but do so lightly. Watering too soon and too heavily may pack the soil down around the seeds and hinder germination.

Once the seeds have germinated (usually in 12 to 14 days), check the soil for moisture every day. Water the seedlings regularly enough that the soil never dries out completely--at least every third day, more often if the weather is very warm.

Water your established grass at least once a week to keep it looking its best. That said, this grass can survive almost any watering conditions, from near-flooding to outright drought. It also tolerates high temperatures well.

Fertilize the grass three times during the growing season. Consult your local nursery about the kind of fertilizer kikuyu grass requires. Apply it according to the directions on the package. Allow two months between each round of fertilizing.

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