Pennisetum clandestine - Kikuyu Grass

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



Planting Rate:

Kikuyu grass should be planted in well prepared soils at the rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet.