Kikuyu Grass is a warm season perennial lawn grass adapted to irrigated areas of the lower deserts
in Arizona. It is a deep rooted, sod forming grass, spread by seed, rhizomes (underground runners),
and stolens (above ground runners). It is a difficult species to produce seed and until recently it was
unavailable in Arizona. Now with modern production techniques, seed is readily available from our
Arizona seed grower. It is a drought tolerant grass that produces a dense turf with many advantages
over bermudagrass lawns.
When compared to bermudagrass:
Kikuyu will stay green longer in the fall, and green up earlier in the spring. Like bermudagrass
it will go dormant in the winter, but will remain active until temperatures go down to the
mid 30’s F, while bermudagrass goes off color when temperatures are in the mid 40’s F. If soil
moisture is maintained during the winter, Kikuyu can re-green during warm periods. In
protected areas it has the ability to stay green year-round.
Kikuyu also maintains a very high degree of wear tolerance during its dormant period. While
a bermudagrass turf breaks down rapidly after it goes dormant, leaving bare soils, Kikuyu will
keep its integrity for a longer time, making the playing surface safer. In Australia it is
preferred over bermudagrass for this reason.
Another big advantage of seeded Kikuyu Grass over seeded Bermudagrass is that people
allergic to Bermudagrass do not seem to be bothered by Kikuyu Grass. Bermudagrass tends to
produce alot of pollen producing seed heads between mowing, while Kikuyu does not
produce many seed heads between mowing. Bermudagrass pollen (Like Olive pollen) tends to
be an nasal irritant, while Kikuyu does not seem to have the same effect on people. While we
cannot make the statement that Kikuyu grass is going to be pollen free and non-allergic to
everybody, it certainly appears to be much less problematic than bermudagrass.
Kikuyu is courser than bermudagrass. It has runners similar in texture to St. Augustine grass.
Unlike St. Augustine grass the leaves of Kikuyu grow up right, giving a nicer turf appearance.
To maintain a healthy lawn, the mowing height Kikuyu should be between 1”- 2”, longer in
the fall and winter. Like bermudagrass, Kikuyu will need an annual verticutting to maintain
optimal appearance. Fertilize on a regular schedule during the growing season with a balance
Kikuyu grass should be planted in well prepared soils at the rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet.